Hebden Bridge in a Wi-Fi World

From Jacob W
Sunday, March 9, 2003

Yes the ideal solution to BT not willing to enable broadband access in the area is to simply cut out adsl technology and move onto the next big thing.

If anybody has been reading the newspapers, technology magazines, or even visited London in the past few months, you may have noticed Wi-Fi springing up everywhere. Wi-Fi stands for Wireless Fidelity (like Hi-Fi - High Fidelity), and allows data to be transferred via radio signals through the air.

Well what does this mean? Well in simple terms it means that Hebden Bridge could set up its own Wi-Fi network and deliver high-speed internet access anywhere in the valley. This could hook up all the houses in the area, as well as local businesses, schools and even farmers in fields via palmtops!!

This would turn Hebden Bridge into a truly technological town and allow small businesses to grow larger and also invite other business and companies into the area.

The current standard of Wireless networks set by the IEEE is 802.11b and this can offer network speeds of up to 11Mbps. There is then the newer standard of 802.11g which allows speeds of up to 54Mbps. Either standard would allow enough network speed for a fast internet connection.

So far ive only talked about how you could network all the houses/businesses in the town and not how to connect them up to the Internet. To take a step into the future and to skip the speeds that adsl gives you (512kb down, 256kb up) Hebden Bridge could lease a high speed Internet line.

A leased line is basically a fibre optic cable that allows data to be transferred at incredible speeds. There are several different speeds of these lines but im estimating that to serve Hebden Bridge full you would probably need a 2 to 4Mbps leased line, depending on how many people use the service. For some initial figures that i pulled off the net this would cost 10,800 per annum for a 2Mbps line or 18,000 for a 4Mbps.

So far there are 212 people who have registered interest in adsl with BT. So if you do the math 18000/212 customers /12 months = just over 7 a month for fast internet access. If people are a bit concerned that 4Mbps wont be enough (which may be the case at peak time of the day) you could also get an 8Mbps line for 28,800 a year. Again by doing the maths this would cost about 12 a month, very reasonable price.

An 8Mbps leased line should cope with the load that the town would put on the leased line, but then all the members would not be using a lot of bandwidth for a lot of the time. For example businesses and schools would be the main users weekdays from 9am to 5pm, and then homeowners would be the main users at the so called "off peak" hours.

How It Would Work
All customers would need to have some sort of wireless network card, these can be easily fitted into most PC's and all recent Apple Macs come with the ability to slot in an Airport card. Customers would then search for the signal from the main wireless base station and connect to this via radio waves.

Once this has happened customers send requests to the wireless base station and then this in turn submits the request to the leased line, which obtains the data from the Internet.

Other Benefits
As well as the main benefit of delivering high speed internet access to the town of Hebden Bridge, the wireless network could also be used as a town intranet. This intranet could then provide local information and services at VERY high speeds.

Services that this could include is:
local news
local advice
local radio broadcasts
e-learning for schools - classes could be watched by sick students from home via a web cam.

Anyway theres just a few ideas, if anybody is interested in doing this then reply to this or you can email me.