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
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.
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.
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.