“The Coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how important it is for everyone to have access to the internet so we can communicate with friends, family and the workplace. We do not know how life will now change, but with the threat of continuing climate change and human activities, we will all have to adapt - access to high-speed internet for everyone will no doubt play an important role in how we go forward, wherever people live or how remote they are.”
David lives in Wyfold, south Oxfordshire and has just recently retired. Beforehand, David would occasionally work from home but was hindered by poor internet speed, which would cause difficulties using the cloud to share documents and video conferencing. When the children were at home, David explained that constant poor quality of access was a continuous frustration to all in the household; simultaneous use of multiple devices was just not possible and even David’s neighbours expressed the same difficulties. Coupled with that, mobile signal was extremely poor and there were also quality issues with the telephone line. The maximum download speed that David could receive was recorded at 2.6Mbps and on average, between 1.3 - 1.6Mbps with frequent line failure.
“As our community is remote, I decided to approach my neighbours to see if they wanted me to represent them as we endeavoured to get high-speed broadband. We have a number of people in our hamlet wanting to work from home, but who were impeded by slow broadband as well as many of my neighbours, who are young and old, but unable to use any TV or video streaming services. We hoped that by coming together and presenting our community's needs, that we might have more chance of being upgraded and it would also make it easier for the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire Programme to justify any costs and as a single point of contact for ongoing communication.”
Life significantly changed when Wyfold later became upgraded with ultrafast broadband (FTTP). David can now receive up to a staggering 150Mbps on his current broadband package, which could go up to a maximum of 300Mbps! David is delighted and occasionally likes to check that his connection speeds still remain jaw-dropping – 142.1Mbps download, 30.0 Mbps upload last confirmed!
Since making the upgrade to FTTP, David has an endless list of possibilities and can now leisurely stream music, videos, download TV channels and films; use Skype, Zoom and FaceTime with friends and family; upload all photos and documents to cloud storage services for security. David can also use wi-fi calling on his mobile phone – “at last we can hear what people are saying at the other end!” Best of all, David is thankful that he’s no longer hounded with the continuous question, “is someone using the internet?!"
David recalls his experience of making the upgrade to FTTP:
“We just contacted our Internet Service Provider and following one simple phone call, the upgrade was fast and efficient; some neighbours had existing contracts with other ISP's that were unable to provide FTTP services at that stage, so had to wait for their existing contracts to end.”
In relation to the other neighbours who were able to make the upgrade, David explains:
“How extremely impressed they were with Openreach who connected both the main fibre cable to the community and then went to all of the properties in the hamlet to install the necessary equipment. Personally, we had absolutely no problems. Installation was free and having ultrafast broadband is not much more expensive than our previous service; we could have opted for a slightly slower package of 50Mbps at no financial increase at all!”
David has provided this case study during the COVID19 pandemic and explains:
“In light of the current lockdown, our internet access has been life-changing. Every one of the 15 households have received a positive benefit with previous broadband speeds of less than 2Mbps. Our immediate neighbours are able to work from home and have two teenagers at a critical stage of their schooling and university studies, but still able to communicate online simultaneously. So many of us in lockdown are now relying on digital video media to group with our friends; all of which would have been impossible without the infrastructure upgrades that we’ve had.”
David expressed thanks on behalf of the community and explained that although the infrastructure upgrade took some time, everyone in the hamlet of Wyfold were extremely grateful to Craig Bower and the Digital Infrastructure Team at Oxfordshire County Council for patiently listening and ultimately, providing the connectivity service that they required.