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BT on the ropes
February 2019

Here is a tale to gladden the hearts of those of us who are sick of dealing with tech monoliths such as BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and the rest.

It’s a regular complaint of many who use Broadband in rural spots that the speed is inadequate.  In my county, publicity suggests that 95% of ‘premises’ have Broadband at 25MPs or higher; that would be fine, if true, but I really can’t imagine how these statistics are compiled.  I know of no one in our village who sees speeds of more than 12 Mbps and my own supply is about 4.5 Mbps.  What’s worse, trying to uncover what might be happening in the future to improve matters is next to impossible for a normal person.

So it was a real pleasure to hear from a friend of mine who lives in a remote spot near Melton Mowbray that he has just managed to set himself up with 10Mps broadband (a massive improvement from his previous 1.5Mbps) and cheaper phone calls, by shifting his allegiance away from BT to one of the growing number of specialist suppliers that are offering to fill the large gaps that exist in the ‘national’ system run by BT and a couple of others.

His new supplier is the very opposite of BT.  It is a tiny, family-owned company with four or five employees.  If you ring them you will, like as not, speak to one of the directors, who will have the time to help; my friend was soon of first name terms with them all.

Their Broadband is provided by radio waves; you must have an uninterrupted line of sight to one of their powerful radio transmitters, and then all the data flows to and fro through the air, not via copper wires or satellites, which some similar companies use.  These ‘Fixed Wireless Providers’ tend to  cover a limited area because of the need to set up and maintain transmitters, but there are lots of such companies.

The installation process is a pleasant mix of and W. Heath Robinson and very high tech.  A chap on your roof waves the small receiver around until a strong enough signal is detected by his colleague in the van.  The receiver is fixed in place and a wire is run from that to a box in your house (the ‘router’ that you are used to) and once your computer is connected, you are up and running.  For a little extra you can arrange for your telephone calls to go through this system as well using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol, but don’t worry about that).  You retain your telephone number if you want it.

Thus, at a stroke, you have no further need to be connected to BT’s system with its copper wires, call centres, impenetrable bills, and high costs.  BT charge me about £20 pm just for the phone line, before I make any calls; I also seem to be paying another £30 pm for my slow broadband.  My friend is paying about £30 pm for the lot – and on top of that, it’s a faster service (which could be even faster if he paid more) and he has the pleasure of dealing with a local company who know him by name.

It’s only BT’s nose which is out of joint, and their staff have been relentless in offering reduced costs and other inducements to tempt him back; inducements that fall short of improving the broadband they offer him, of course.

The only hiccup has been when an adaptor was delayed in being posted because the managing director had gone on holiday for a couple of days.  Somehow, that’s rather endearing.


Resources for futher research:

There are similar companies all over the country; if you live in a slow-pot or a not-spot worth seeing if you have a ‘Fixed Wireless’ provider in your area.  A website called ISP review can help you find one.  Click here  and search for your county; it will list the Fixed Wireless Providers’ in your area.

If there is none covering you, it might be worth looking at the providers who do the job via satellite: Click here

If you’d like to see how well your own area is doing in terms of installing Broadband go to the website thinkbroadband – specifically Click here

If you want to check what speed you are already getting there are many online speed tests – I tend to use