Broadband campaigners in Kingsclere and surrounding villages are not resting on their laurels. Having so successfully and swiftly brought in a local wireless broadband service in collaboration with SEEDA and Hungerford company FDM, they're now moving forward on two fronts: improving and extending the wireless service, while pushing hard for the Kingsclere exchange to become ADSL-enabled as soon as possible.
On the ADSL front local people believe they may have been short-changed by BT. When the Kingsclere exchange target for ADSL was set, I felt it was high relative to the number of telephone users. BT blamed this on the high cost of improving the 'backhaul' capacity between the exchange the wider Internet. But I understand that by the time, in November, BT announced trigger levels for a high proportion of the remaining exchanges, the policy had changed. Triggers were set based on average costs, not the specific costs at a particular exchange.
Kingsclere campaigners believe Kingsclere's target should then have been re-worked, bringing it into line with other exchanges with similar numbers of subscribers. Local campaigner Clare Kinnear is concerned that Kingsclere's place in BT's timetable for exchanges might be much sooner, had a correct trigger number been set. At her request I'm writing to BT to ask them to review this.
Meanwhile Clare is also working with FDM and other Kingsclere campaigners to extend wireless coverage to Hannington and other outlying villages; if a wireless distribution point is established on the high ground at or near the Hannington, FDM's tests show that it will be able to deliver service to a large number of people whose homes may be outwith the reach of ADSL even when the Kingsclere exchange is enabled. BT now expects the 'reach' of ADSL to increase to 10km from an exchange, but line quality and other factors mean that some homes may still be out of reach.
Within Kingsclere itself FDM are working with Peter Woodman and Steve Allam to upgrade both the level of service and the total broadband capacity delivered by the wireless network. Full marks to the team at Kingsclere, showing what a small community can achieve through a few hard-working and committed people. An ideal outcome would be for Kingsclere people to have the choice of ADSL or wireless - among the first rural communities in Britain to be in this position.