BBC2's Working Lunch comes to Hebden Bridge

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Working Lunch

Download (or view) the seven minute movie of the 3-C feature (5.3 mb)

The following was taken from the BBC "Working Lunch" website ,
photos from 3-C and Hebweb

"Hebden Bridge already boasts the country's oldest community website. Now it has the country's first co-operative internet service provider offering broadband to the town."

The hills that dominate Hebden Bridge add to the scenery, but they can be a bit of a barrier to communication.

The town can't get digital television and Channel 5 is off the list too.

But when it came to broadband, the always on, high speed internet access service, the local residents were determined not to be left behind.

Not only did the people of Hebden Bridge campaign to get it, they've gone one stage further and are running their own internet service provider (ISP) co-operative.

It's the first of its kind.

There are some local ISPs around Britain already, but this co-op version will also provide a cheap broadband service and is funded almost entirely without government money.

Working Lunch

Filming in the Shoulder of Mutton

CAMPAIGN

It all started because Hebden Bridge could not guarantee a high enough take-up rate of the service for BT.

BT will only upgrade local telephone exchanges if there is a certain take-up rate guaranteed; in this case it was 500 connections, which for a rural community was too tall an order.

After a concerted campaign, the upgrade trigger was dropped to 300, a victory for the small community which meant that all 10,000 phone lines in Hebden Bridge could now get broadband.

But having the taste for people power pushed the action group to create their own ISP and so 3-C, Calder Connect Co-operative, was born.

Chris Ratcliffe is one of the pioneers. He's a web developer and publisher so broadband has become vital to him.

"There isn't another internet service provider that's also a co-operative - that's why we're so excited. We can extend the broadband wireless. We can even extend it into the hills where BT currently won't go," he says.

HOW IT WORKS

The co-op buys the wholesale broadband from BT. E-mail services and administration are provided by The Phone Co-op; they provide the infrastructure and the interface for the service.

At the consumer end, a company called MyZones provide the authentication and the secure wireless network to get the service to consumers.

GRANT

The bulk of this has been funded through a 600 grant from the local council and from members, each of whom has bought a share in the co-op. The co-op has also received donation of equipment.

3-C is now providing broadband to 370 members for 20 a month including VAT, or if you're happy to go wireless, the price drops to 15.

The co-op aims to have 1,000 users by the end of this year. It is especially hoped that homes that wouldn't normally have this kind of high speed internet connection will join up.

BBC Working Lunch

Working Lunch

Working Lunch

Further information about 3-C or community broadband may be obtained from the 3-C website at www.3-c.coop or by phoning 0845 456 1793.


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