"It has been a revelation – the real fourth utility for a rural community - and has absolutely transformed day to day life back to my Silicon Valley days.''
Broadband champion Neil Blake MA, CEng FIET FBCS: Retired engineer from computer software industry, latterly 10 years in Silicon Valley bringing research to market. Now facilitates new business ventures and pro bono.
Before Ewelme’s broadband improvement was achieved in December 2013 the community wasn’t even getting 1 Mbps, now it’s over 40 times that. Having fought for his village to be connected and enabled so many of his desperate neighbours to sign up, in February 2014 Neil was able to surf the superfast broadband wave.
Neil says it was certainly worth the wait and now he can’t really recall life without it:
“It has been a revelation – the real fourth utility for a rural community - and has absolutely transformed day to day life back to my Silicon Valley days. Simple things like doing quick online research for information are instantly routine, downloading large updates for software is no longer an impossible nightmare, website building and maintenance is now easy, and exchanges of big publications no longer an issue.
“Shopping is a particular benefit when I can hunt down spare parts for my aged tractor and research a product’s availability instead of making a wasted journey in the car to a retailer. Reducing the carbon footprint of unnecessary travel and the costs of parking are important savings which my wife enjoys too of course.
“I’m semi-retired so I don’t have a business need for broadband on a daily basis but I still do the odd bit of consulting for which it’s a big help. Being able to conference call from rural Oxfordshire has been useful. My wife, too, couldn’t live without it now to participate in community projects such as supporting Oxfam to running a boat club.”
“One very important benefit is that our service families at RAF Benson are now beginning to enjoy the communications services they richly deserve to stay in touch with relatives and friends posted abroad.”
As well as championing broadband, Neil now facilitates new business ventures and pro bono causes.