Using Zhone Technologies VDSL2 line cards to create a 40Mbps service, averaging at 25Mbps (The UK average is around 3.2Mbps), this is the first time the residents of a rural village will be able to watch streaming HD TV, BBC iPlayer and other digital online services, rivaling urban broadband provision using telephone lines.
This unique service means rural communities can now set up high speed broadband through a sustainable self-financing programme, which exploits telecoms legislation and allows smaller companies to use stretches of the BT copper wire network to supply an ultra-fast broadband to individuals and businesses.
Lyddington’s village broadband is a significant milestone in UK telecoms history with villagers being transferred from a BT to a Rutland Telecom owned street cabinet resulting in voice and data services delivered from what is effectively a new village mini-telephone exchange.
Dr David Lewis, managing director, Rutland Telecom said: “As a local IT company we were constantly getting enquiries about high-speed broadband and decided to see how this could be provided. We found that by exploiting telecoms legislation we could utilize parts of BT’s existing infrastructure and supply next generation broadband services via community funded projects.
“Rutland Telecom is now delighted to have developed the first UK Fibre to the Cabinet broadband offering in a rural location bringing a unique service to an otherwise technologically-impoverished community. The ‘digital divide’ has become one of the major social and business issues of our time. Investing in high speed broadband could be the key to stimulating rural economies everywhere so people can remain in the countryside to live and work."
Rutland Telecom's project in Lyddington has set a precedent across the UK that demonstrates it is possible for rural areas with demand for high upload and download speeds to have it delivered from street cabinets by smaller operators with community support, and for this to be financially viable and economically sustainable.
The small community in Lyddington (200 premises) raised £37,000 for Rutland Telecom to deliver the UK’s first ever broadband service from a street cabinet using a process called subloop unbundling. The funding works by individual investors getting an annual 10% gross return for three years after which time their capital is fully refunded. This allows for the infrastructure (fibre optic cable) to be installed and general set up costs accounted for.
Mark Melluish, Director & Rural LLU Consultant, Rutland Telecom said: “We have now received approaches from many areas around the UK following our success in Lyddington and we are progressing the deployment of more street cabinets in Wales, Yorkshire and Leicestershire using private finance models.”
Dr Charles Trotman, Head of Rural Business Development for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), who officially opened the Lyddington broadband service said: “The work that Rutland Telecom has done in Lyddington shows it is possible for rural communities to receive next generation access broadband across the UK and is an important step forward which should be congratulated.”
“One of the casualties of the General Election is the measure to impose a 50p levy on phone lines to fund the expansion of broadband to remote areas. The CLA will lobby the next Government to make sure that broadband is extended to those businesses and communities who are now at a disadvantage in an on-line world. Large parts of rural Britain still lack a broadband connection or receive a very poor service. As a result thousands of businesses in the countryside are at an unfair disadvantage to those in cities.”
Brian Caskey, CMO for Zhone said: "VDSL2 provides the ability to deliver very high speed access over existing infrastructure. Additionally VDSL2 offers subscribers high speed connectivity, providing tremendous opportunities along with intense bandwidth access that will dramatically shape the subscribers of Lyddington and their access capabilities and media services for the foreseeable future. The MALC is purpose-built to support a diverse range of multi-service solutions and allows scale to support and manage a wide array of capacity requirements ensuring investment protection and the flexibility to effectively serve in this rapidly changing market."
Comedian and actor Stephen Fry who went to school in the neighbouring town of Uppingham, the home of Rutland Telecom, sent this message of support.
“Sorry I can't be there on the great launch day, but I just wanted to send my support. I'm old enough to remember the great postal strike of 1970 or 71, when Rutland issued its own postage stamps. This is a far more important step. It has always been a frustration that fast, reliable broadband service has always been hardest for those who most benefit - those in the countryside far from metropolitan and urban areas whose use of full Internet services can not only revitalise rural areas but also do considerable good to the environment, allowing people and businesses to work with so much less travel. I am fantastically impressed by the enterprise, initiative and technical savvy of Rutland Telecom and wish them well here in Uppingham and in the wider UK beyond.”
Dr. David Lewis (Managing Director)
After taking a PhD in entomology from Leicester University, David began a teaching career at Nottingham High School where he coached the U13 National Schools Tennis Champions. As a middle manager at Uppingham School, he was the first to introduce internet into the classroom in 1997 against the prevailing ethos. He left teaching in 2001 to establish Examboost, the first National financial incentive scheme for examination achievement which aroused considerable media coverage. Following a period as an ICT educational consultant in 7 different LEAs, he went on to form a profitable start-up ICT businesses with no capital investment. Two early contracts were from large schools who outsourced the management of their ICT facilities to his company. He has lived and worked in Rutland for 16 years and currently manages 2 businesses in the town – Rutland ICT Computer Services and Edgy Productions, a school musical production company.
Mark Melluish (Director)
Mark has spent over 26 years working within the Telecommunications Industry. He worked for Cable & Wireless for ten years in senior Sales & Marketing roles, mainly in the U.K. but also spending time in Pakistan and the U.S.A. He has held sales management positions with both Marconi and Nokia (Fixed Networks) where he led his team to win major contracts both in the U.K. and Europe. In 2001 Mark became involved as Sales and Marketing director in a start-up local loop unbundling company, based in the Midlands – he was successful in winning a number of contracts awarded by Regional Development Agencies which delivered broadband to rural communities. He then went on, as part of a small consortium, to acquire the LLU assets of a major UK network operator which also led to a further acquisition of the assets of a rural broadband company. He now operates a consultancy, specialising in advising and assisting organisations and local government authorities who are seeking assistance in entering the LLU arena.
Rupert Warwick, Skyfield Communications
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