November Meeting

Village Meeting on Monday 12th November at 7.30 pm in Pelham Hall

Some 90 or so attended last night’s meeting in Pelham Hall where Claire Brown, from Spectrum Internet, together with Bill Jackson and David May, from the Penallt Broadband Association, brought the audience up to date with recent progress and explained what the next steps would be.

BT will not be upgrading Penallt
A statement from Openreach that “at this stage, the fibre roll out programme does not include the Monmouth exchange, which (the Lone Lane cabinet) is served from” confirmed that there is no point in waiting for BT to improve broadband in Penallt and that the partnership with Spectrum Internet was the only way forward.

WAG forms must be returned
Bill Jackson then explained that the the Welsh Government grant awarded to 78 Penallt households had to be claimed within the current financial year. 66 Offer of Funding forms have already been returned to the WAG Broadband Support office and he encouraged others to follow suit as soon as possible. It was emphasised that signing this Offer form did not commit householders to the scheme – this stage is reached when the contract with Spectrum Internet is signed.

The Spectrum packages available
Claire Brown went on to give some background to the solutions for both Penallt and Tregagle. The Lone Lane cabinet would have its existing copper link to Monmouth bypassed by a microwave link thereby bringing the “full strength” broadband signal directly to this cabinet. Two services would be offered: the standard one would give download speeds ranging from 18 Mbps for those living close to the cabinet to a minimum of 4 Mbps to those living the furthest. The premium service (based on a different technology) would offer download speeds of up to 38 Mbps, and upload speeds of 2 Mbps (home) to 10 Mbps (business). However, this technology is highly distance dependent and it is expected that those living more than 1.5 km from the cabinet may be better off with the standard service.

The current “go live” date is scheduled for January 8th (see timeline below), but Claire also expressed some optimism that an earlier date might be achieved.

The “line of sight” wireless solution for Tregagle is necessarily a highly customised one, very dependent on the exact locations of each house in the scheme. Spectrum are committed to providing a 10 Mbps service for all those who have currently joined the scheme by their award of Welsh Government grants, but the required survey work cannot start until Spectrum know exactly who the customers are and where they live. It is therefore vital that those connected to the Trellech exchange, and who wish to continue with the broadband scheme, return their Spectrum New Customer Order Forms as soon as possible.

It will not be possible to predict a completion date for the Tregagle project until the survey is completed and the wireless solution designed, but some time in early 2013 is realistic for this.

Next Steps
Claire then explained what steps must be taken from now on to get connected (see here for details) and what is needed to be done once the connection is made.

Spectrum also provide a telephony service, some details of which are given in their Community Broadband Information Pack (p4). Because of the myriad of different charge patterns from other providers, it is practically impossible to make direct comparisons between Spectrum’s charges and those of others. The only realistic solution is for individuals to consider a recent telephone bill and re-price it using Spectrum’s charges and judge whether or not it is cost-effective to switch telephony to Spectrum on this basis.

New applicants
Some at the meeting were new applicants and David May then took them through what options were available. These depend on which exchange the new applicants were connected to. Those connected to the Lone Lane cabinet could subscribe to Spectrum at any stage as their solution is “off the peg”, and anyone deciding to subscribe by January could also apply for the WAG £1000 grant (see here for more details); they would not then pay for a Spectrum connection fee whereas those subscribing without the WAG grant would be liable for it.

New applicants connected to the Trellech exchange face a much greater challenge as, depending on the exact location of their property, it might be much more difficult (and costly) to redesign the wireless network to include them. Thus new connections would be unlikely in most cases. There may be a possibility that they could fit into solutions provided by TUBI (Trellech United Broadband Initiative) instead.

Question and Answer
There was a wide variety of questions from the floor. The topic of microwave safety arose and, when it was pointed out that the beams were (a) very directional, and (b) of very low power, doubts about this were dispelled. Another question related to self-monitoring of broadband usage and Spectrum will look into the possibility of providing a meter for this purpose.

One popular concern was that some ISPs (broadband providers) are harder to leave than others and that obtaining MAC codes can be difficult. This is something which Spectrum will assist with and they will want to know as soon as any problems of this type arise.

It was also confirmed that Help Desk support was locally based and would be open during office hours.

The Presentation
The slides shown during the presentation are available here.

Missing documents??
If you have mislaid or never received any of the recent documentation from Spectrum Internet, you may download it from the links below:

  • Spectrum Community Broadband Information Pack
  • Spectrum New Customer Order Form
  • Spectrum Terms and Conditions

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