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No spires required for our community broadband

Broadband arrives in Fair Isle, one of Britain's remotest corners, in 2005
Broadband arrives in Fair Isle, one of Britain’s remotest corners, in 2005. Reader Bill Messer battled the bureaucrats to bring broadband to his part of west Wales. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian

 

Kim Stoddart’s report (Living in a broadband ‘not-spot’? Try using the church spire to get a signal, 12 November) highlights a variety of local attempts to solve this problem but bemoans the fact that Ceredigion in west Wales is seventh from the bottom out of 650 UK constituencies for connectivity. Oh really? Not in our part of Ceredigion. We have a mast supplying 4G signals from all four major mobile network operators and we buy, and distribute 40Mbps broadband from a small technology company.

We are currently looking at extending our service by using “whitespace”, spare bandwith capacity on TV wavebands. This is a community achievement. Six years ago four of us in our seventies and eighties formed a not-for-profit company, raised £243,000 from grant sources (including European money) and the cost of our unpaid time. We had contractors build the mast on a small piece of land leased to us by a local farmer. It was not always easy: fighting bureaucracy at local, Welsh and Westminster government levels took a lot of time and energy but with help from our friends in the community, including our local MP, we did it. He tells us we have better communications here than he has in Westminster. It can be done but needs a community to commit its resources of members’ time and energy. And forget the church spires: Welsh chapels don’t have spires.

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