A Hampshire village has implemented wireless broadband in a project that offers perhaps a blueprint for bringing remote communities online.
Villagers in Kingsclere secured a £15,000 grant for the project through their Parish Council from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).
They had hoped to convince BT to introduce ADSL in the area, but chose to adopt a wireless service from another supplier (FDM Broadband) when they realized that the 500 subscribers BT expects to see in an area before introducing ADSL would be hard to find.
Local businessman Steve Allam said: “Kingsclere’s population is just 3,500, so BT’s trigger level was unrealistically high.” Allam pointed out that businesses in remote areas are falling behind competitors and can’t wait a couple of years to get broadband.
"Wireless broadband is a bit more expensive to install than ADSL, but with the help of the SEEDA grant, we have been able to subsidize the infrastructure costs so that individual subscribers' installation costs are competitive with what people in urban areas are paying for cable or ADSL broadband," explained Parish Councillor Peter Woodman.
"Demand in rural areas is clearly no lower than it is in the cities; it's just less densely concentrated, which makes providing the infrastructure less attractive to the service providers. But why should rural businesses be left behind?" he asked.
FDM Broadband managing director Karl Crossman said: "If we want to avoid a major digital divide emerging in this country, wireless broadband is going to be essential to bringing broadband to the ten to 20 per cent of the population who live in remote rural areas where other infrastructure is unavailable."
"The big fixed-line providers have been reluctant to expand their infrastructure into many rural areas and have been very ambivalent in their dealings with rural communities like this one," he observed.