Wireless Internet via Community Network

From Patrick Phillips
Thursday, May 1, 2003
I suggest that it would be worthwhile to consider these alternatives based on the following offerings:

1. BT offer leased line connections
a. Bronze 2Mb static 1:20 500 installation, 14,995 pa
b. Silver 2Mb static 1:1 2100 installation, 25,000 pa
c. Gold 8Mb upgradeable to 32Mb 1:1 6,566 inastallation, 52,911
2. Easynet (2nd largest UK backbone) offer leased line connections
a. 2Mb static 1:1 4,250 installation, 20,000 pa
b. multiples of above to 8Mb at discount from single line price

Assuming that a 8Mb line would satisfy the demand of 300 users in practical terms, this equates to a cost of 21.88 installation and 176.37 pa rental compared with 150 installation and 360 pa rental using a BT enabled domestic 500k line. Obviously there is also the cost of the WiFi adaptor card and antennae at about 50 in addition to the installation cost.

Whilst there is potential for reduction of line speed with such a system depending on usage, there is also the potential for a user to achieve 8Mb if they are the only active user at the time!

The other issue here is the access for users to the access point(s) using 802.11b/c. This would only be possible for those who are within line of sight to the access point. The world record for 802.11b is 72 miles Most of the town could be within line of sight of a number of possible locations by the use of roof antennae.

Dlink are manufacturers of adaptor cards and access points and would be willing to do a survey of the town to establish connectivity. Easynet have also said they would be willing to carry out a survey and feasibility study.

The cost of access point repeaters, with around a 25Km range is about 1000 per end. These could be used to extend the net beyond the town bowl.

There is a grant of 700 available from Rabbit-Internet for alternative broadband solutions in rural areas which could be applied to carry out further testing if required.

The primary schools are being offered grants by the DFES to install 2Mb broadband connections. These grants are being administered by the LEA.

The LEA intend to establish connection using their existing 10Mb lines into Hebden Bridge. They have tentively considered allowing external use of such capacity. However the DFES have said that they could not permit their grants to be used to allow the schools to onward sell capacity. They would allow their grants to be used to enable schools to buy service from a local bandwidth supplier.

Schools will eventually require 2Mb DSL (rather than ADSL) but the grant is to cover the first year installation, half the second year rental and 25% of the third year with nothing after that. Primary schools have no use for anything more than 0.5Mb at present and may not need the full bandwidth inside the next 4 years, in my opinion. Given this, primary schools would be looking at nothing in year one, 1000 in year two, 1500 in year three and 2000 a year after that. This may make the DFES grant seem an unnecessary expense. If so, the purchase of a share in the community net may well be a more attractive offering though the LEA will discourage them.

The question of whether a LAN based on a server PC at the local end of a leased, thus enabling use of local data/intranet but with a single ISP or whether to use routers which would allow the use of multiple ISPs is a matter for further consideration.

BT Broadband - Denise 0800 3895991 xt 8229
BT Leased Line - Lisa 01793 593340
BT Wholesale (Exchange line networking) - 0800 7835880 Asonia Burgess
Easynet - Lawrence Fletcher 02079008056
LEA Broadband Moira Hall 01422 357257
DFES Schools Broadband - Steve Hogger 02072734771
WiFi Networking equipment - Dlink 0208 731 5550

Websites viewed:

A Way Forward

I suggest that a meeting be called of all those interested in pursuing an alternative to getting BT to enable the HB exchange.
I would invite presentations from:
1. BT Leased lines
2. Easynet
3. Dlink
4. Rabbit-Internet
5. Any local techies with a view
6. Possible local base sites (eg. Birchencliffe Centre)
I would suggest the meeting consider forming a local co-operative or company to do a feasibility study and, if successful, negotiate roll-out and management.