Lockdown fibre broadband; for the community, by the community.
The only bit of jostling anyone seems to do these days is online, for bandwidth, competing with neighbours for a share of the length of copper wire to the cabinet. B4SH, however, continues to solve that problem for you by rolling out ever more network and we are thrilled to say that this month we have connected 20 more customers! We are delighted as that means 20 fewer customers struggling to keep school students online, when competing with online banking, Netflix streaming (the GCSE and A level students do have to fill their days somehow during lockdown!) and those conducting back-to-back Zoom or Teams meetings. This language and the online facilities are completely new to most of us, and learnt only since March when we were all locked down.
Our resolute band of volunteers have been really busy over the last 3 months but we are a small team, and whilst we have had some fantastic new help from volunteers, we can’t quite keep up with demand for our network. We have been very active in Shamley Green whilst also installing in a small area of Albury Heath and also a new build in central Albury. But everywhere people see our now familiar orange duct, they get more encouraged and interest is raised.
We would like to give a big shout out to all the dads and sons/daughters who have turned out to help. Social distancing isn’t an issue and there’s a great camaraderie working with your mum or dad to install a fibre network! You really are making a difference. Thank you.
Apologies to anyone who has contacted us recently and you haven’t heard from us. If you would like to help us in the office, we would love to hear from you as we always feel bad if we can’t respond promptly. The bigger the team, the more we can achieve, so if you want to make a different call the office on our new landline 01483 347437 and 07437 165949.
On that topic, are there people who have been furloughed (another term we’ve learnt this year), who might like to get involved in something completely new? Broadband is a growing industry and work is local. We can’t afford to employ people at present, but we can offer a chance to learn new skills in a growing company. We are run largely by volunteers and our deployment is built on the support of the community. Our volunteers come from all parts of the community, some you will even recognise as neighbours. If you’re concerned about being out and circulating, there are jobs where our office would dearly love some help eg with wayleaves (the permission to dig forms) and generating maps. Ring Sonya in the office for a chat and she can tell you more.
We are looking, in particular, for someone to do the router installation ie drill holes in property walls and install the routers inside (we have a complete box of installation tools) we just need someone who is confident with a drill and can pop into people’s homes as and when required (nothing technical required as we have another volunteer who does our splicing).
We now have service rolled out all the way long Littleford Lane in Shamley Green which was particularly rewarding as we had been forced to wait to install them due to the incredibly wet winter which meant the area was too wet to work. However, all the residents have now taken a connection.
We installed duct all along the north of Woodhill Lane and all properties are connected there too. One property owner there said.
Prior to installation the internet was slow and poor. With 6 people working from home at one point it was proving very difficult as Wi-Fi calls kept cutting out and internet was too slow and dropping. In my husband’s case, it prevented him from doing his work properly and made working from home frustrating and difficult.
The installation process was extremely well organised, efficient and thorough. The team were very considerate and managed to navigate the lock down protocols very well. The hyper fast broad band allows us to work from home efficiently and productively and avoids the exhausting commute!
We have had no problems post-installation – one comment the family have raised is that the download speeds are not as instantaneous as expected when it comes to streaming films etc. I guess this is because the platforms we use can’t cope with the speeds!!”
And her husband remarked.
I work in the City and it’s just like being in the office, but I’m at home in Shamley Green!
A newly connected family in Littleford Lane, who all turned out to help install the duct across their garden, said,
I really cannot believe it has happened!! Already it has made a huge difference to our lives. We now have two home schoolers who can actually keep up with lessons, a uni student who can watch movies all day (!) and both of us adults able to work from home during this difficult time.
We also have an ever growing number of connections south of Woodhill Lane running round to the Green and Church Hill. We are also active to the east and west of Stroud Lane. If you live in these areas and we haven’t spoken to you, please get in touch – and mention it to your neighbours too in case we haven’t managed to contact them. We’re aware of an increased number of WhatsApp groups as a means of communicating with neighbours, so please help us spread the word.
Though we dislike tarmac and avoid crossing roads if there is an alternative, we have carried out two road crossings, at Farley Heath Road and Woodhill Lane to enable us to take service to Madgehole and also down east and west sides of Stroud Lane. Plus, we have two more crossings scheduled, Littleford Lane and Madgehole Lane in early August.
We continue to liaise with utilities to identify their networks and worked with UKPN to complete a road crossing. Many in Shamley Green will be familiar with the high pressure gas pipeline that runs through the area and we are working with them as we have to hand dig across their pipe.
Many thanks to our investors as this has enabled us to continue to buy duct, chambers, fibre, routers and pay specialist contractors to install the duct or carry out surveys of the route.
We rely on Zoom to meet online to agree routes, purchasing, funding and give updates but are also visiting premises as appropriate to agree router locations and advise property owners on how they can install the 7mm duct across their gardens (we install to the curtilage, the property owner installs the free issue 7mm duct to their house) where we take over, drill through to the inside and set up the router. We have also had to go inside the 20 homes we connected to install their routers. Of course, in this instance we have to enter properties but will work with the resident to agree the best approach with the restrictions we still have.
We have applied for the Gigabit Voucher Scheme, but unfortunately like a lot of Government processes it is taking a long time for them to complete.
We wore our previous mole plough out! So we have just bought and adapted a new one for our needs. You will see our shiny red plough out in the fields shortly.
Thanks as always to the land owners who have granted wayleaves and been flexible with the routing and installation. We just couldn’t install this network without your support.
Also, a reminder to those newly connected to notify HMRC of having been connected. Investors who buy redeemable shares of at least £2,000 have their £150 router charge waived. HMRC class this as “value received” but it is an “insignificant receipt”, so just a formality to let them know. Contact the office if you need more information.
With your support and interest, we continue to piece together land ownership, interested parties and reviewed routes to connect people in a variety of areas. The more communities work together, the easier it is to grow our network.
Thank you for all your wonderfully positive notes, texts and testimonials – this is what keeps us going, so do keep sending them in. We will try and get more up on our website.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here are a few of our recent work: