Libby Bateman becomes the North West’s Digital Hero!

24 November 2011 at 18:32 in News by Louis Mosley

Lots of congratulations to Libby Bateman, who was at the House of Lords this afternoon to pick up her £5000 prize for winning  TalkTalk’s North West Digital Hero award 2011.

Libby Bateman with Charles Dunstone, chairman of Talk Talk, Martha Lane-Fox, UK Digital Champion, and others at the House of Lords.

She beat two other nominees to win the prize. She sadly missed out on the national prize of £10,000 but will come back to Cumbria with £5000 for the East Cumbria Community Broadband Forum.

In case you missed them, here are the articles about Libby in the Westmorland Gazette and the News & Star.

Well done Libby!

Jeremy Hunt meets Eden’s Broadband Champions

10 November 2011 at 11:10 in News by Louis Mosley

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport –and the Minister in charge of broadband - was in Penrith yesterday where he met some of Eden’s Broadband Champions.

Jeremy Hunt MP, Sec of State, Miles Mandelson, Gt Asby Broadband Champion, Lindsey Annison, Warcop Broadband Champion, Rory Stewart MP

Best of all, he ‘virtually’ opened Warcop’s Cyberbarn by fusing together a fibre-optic cable (with some help from Lindsey Annison!).

Rory said: “I was delighted to introduce Jeremy to some of the key players of the East Cumbria Community Broadband Forum. And it was a real honour to have him virtually open the Warcop Cyberbarn by actually fusing a piece of fibre-optic cable! It’s been great that the Secretary of State has seen just how effective our community broadband activists are here in Eden, and to see how Cumbria is driving forward the government’s superfast broadband agenda. I’d also like to congratulate Lindsey on the opening of the Cyberbarn, which will be an amazing resource for the people of Warcop and the surrounding area.”

Lindsey has some great videos of the meeting on her blog:

Cyberbarn, Warcop and Bleatarn, is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday between 1 and 7pm. Fibre, 3G And satellite technologies are on show. UK Online Basics course are available on everything from email to online safety, DEFRA to CTS, social media to computer programming.

Mobile Coverage updates

3 November 2011 at 14:36 in News by Louis Mosley

A couple of things. First, the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee has published it’s long-awaited report on spectrum policy. You can read it here. The committee has thrown its weight firmly behind the idea of increasing the coverage obligation attached to one 4G licence to 98% of the population.

It also urges Ofcom and BDUK to work closely with each other to ensure that lack of backhaul doesn’t become the excuse that Mobile Network Operators give for not providing coverage in rural areas. This means that deployments like Connecting Cumbria should also be undertaken with an eye on what the MNOs might need.Easier said than done!

Second, yesterday Ofcom launched online coverage maps comparing levels of outdoor mobile phone coverage and superfast broadband availability by local authority. You can check them out here.

According to the maps, 97% of premises and 66% of the UK landmass can receive a 2G signal outdoors from all four 2G networks.

This means that approximately 900,000 UK premises do not have a choice of all four 2G mobile networks.

For 3G, 73% of premises and 13% of the UK’s landmass can receive a signal outdoors from all five 3G networks, with lower coverage in less densely populated areas.

This means that approximately 7.7million UK premises do not have a choice of all five 3G mobile networks.

Now that £150m is available to build base stations in rural areas check out Ofcom’s sitefinder tool to see what’s near you (and where no doubt base stations are missing!)

November issue of Connecting Cumbria Newsletter

at 12:32 in News by Louis Mosley

Can be read here, in case you’ve missed it.


with an interview with Fra Cooke, chair of Cumbria’s Hub coordinators!

Digital Heroes Award 2011 - vote for Libby!

20 October 2011 at 15:52 in News by Louis Mosley

Vote for Libby Bateman!

Click here:

And help the East Cumbria Community Broadband Forum.

Could she be the North West’s Digital Hero 2011?

The Christmas Elf!
Libby Bateman at the Brough Christmas Fair, 11 December 2010

If Libby wins, she will get a £5000 technology grant to help the work of the East Cumbria Community Broadband Forum.

She will also get the chance to get the chance to be overall winner and win a grand prize of £10,000.

Every vote counts!




Ofcom launches Broadband Map

6 July 2011 at 12:02 in News by Louis Mosley

The map was published this morning.

Check it out here:

The map shows:

· The availability of superfast broadband
· The average broadband take-up
· the average maximum speed for current generation broadband and cable services
· The percentage of homes getting less than 2Mbps

The map is divided in to 200 authorities. Each area has been ranked according to a score given for each of the measures above and colour coded with green ranking highest, and red lowest.

Unfortunately, it shows how much there is to be done in Cumbria.

Cumbria scores very badly on the all important measures of the percentage of homes getting less than 2Mbps (Cumbria scores 21.1%  - among the very highest in England) and the availability of superfast broadband (a big 0% in Cumbria). Only take-up is respectable (if not a glowing result).

Let’s make sure that we reverse this situation by 2015!

Afghanistan’s home-grown wireless network

27 June 2011 at 12:10 in News by Duncan Brown

Recently American publications have been reporting an unusual wireless project that didn’t make many headlines over here, but looks like a dream community network. The scheme, which is called FabFi, is described on its website as ‘an open-source, FabLab-grown system using common building materials and off-the-shelf electronics to transmit wireless ethernet signals across distances of up to several miles.’ To put it another way, FabFi is a community wireless network set up in Eastern Afghanistan, made out of rubbish and car batteries. It uses technology developed at MIT and most of its Afghan staff were recruited as university students.

Each node in the network at Jalalabad costs about $60 to install - the network components are all ordinary bits of circuitry, and the masts are built out of whatever material is to hand. It’s a relatively simple process to put them together:

Commercial wireless routers are mounted on homemade RF reflectors covered with a metallic mesh surface. Another router-on-a-reflector is set up at a distance; the two routers then create an ad-hoc network that provides Internet access to a whole network of reflectors. The number of reflectors which can be integrated into the network is theoretically endless; FabFi’s network covers most of Jalalabad.

The reflectors can be built out of wood, metal, plastics, stone, clay, or any other locally available product that the metallic mesh can be attached to. FabFi also designed their devices to run on power generated by an automobile battery, which means the networks an also go “off-the-grid” if necessary. [Fast Company]

It seems the spirit of JFDI is alive and well! Have a look at the FabLab blog for more info.

Cumbria County Council announces broadband supplier shortlist

3 June 2011 at 10:21 in News by Louis Mosley

Yesterday, Cumbria County Council announced the list of suppliers who have made it through to the second stage of the broadband procurement process.

The contract, worth £120million, is made up in two lots as follows;

Lot one is for the contract to provide ICT services to the council, this includes provision and maintenance of computers, phones and security etc.

Lot two is to support an exciting county wide initiative to improve public sector networks across Cumbria and to implement super-fast broadband across the County, a project known as ‘Accessible Cumbria’.

bidders through to the second stage are:

Lot One – ICT Services (maintaining the council’s computers, phones etc.)

BT Global Services
Commendium Ltd
Computercentre UK Ltd
Tata Consultancy Services Ltd

Lot Two – Accessible Cumbria (installing a superfast broadband network)

BT Global Services
Cable and Wireless
Commendium Ltd

124 suppliers registered an interest in the two ICT contracts with a total of 23 suppliers submitting submissions in the first stage.

The next stages involve the shortlisted companies entering into detailed dialogue with the Council to complete their outline stage 2 submissions for each lot by the end of July, with final detailed solutions by the end of September. The final decision will be taken by Cabinet in December 2011.

The contract start date will be 1st April 2012.

Here is the full press release

What do you make of the list?

The Big Mobile Broadband Debate

13 May 2011 at 08:38 in News by Louis Mosley

This week is a unique chance finally to get decent mobile and broadband coverage for Britain. At the beginning of next year, the government is holding an auction which will determine what percentage of the population gets mobile coverage. Currently they are aiming for 95%, but this leaves over 3 million people off line and out of reception.

Slow broadband connections and lack of mobile reception damages local businesses, isolates communities, and distances families, most especially in rural areas. We need to urge the government to push for a much higher percentage – preferable 100% .

On Thursday 19 May, the Backbench MPs, led by Rory Stewart, are holding a debate on the subject in the House of Commons.

Now is the time to write to your MP, ring your MP, email your MP, tweet you MP, and urge them to go to the debate and support the motion to increase broadband and mobile phone coverage throughout Britain.

Time is running out and this is our very last chance. Don’t let it slip away!

Competition Hots Up For Cumbria Broadband Contract

13 April 2011 at 14:06 in News by Louis Mosley

At 9am this morning, Fujitsu unveiled plans to rival BT Openreach and build an open-access wholesale fibre network to deliver next-generation broadband to 5 million homes and businesses in rural parts of the UK.

This announcement is terrific news for those of us who are keen to see a fair fight for Cumbria’s £121m contract for broadband and IT services.

The network will deliver fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband capable of 1Gbps (both upstream and downstream) from day one. Cisco technology will be used to underpin the network and Virgin Media and TalkTalk have agreed to use it to expand their next-generation broadband offerings.

Best of all, this Fujitsu-led consortium announced that they ‘will actively support the involvement of local community broadband groups, enabling dynamic and flexible solutions in rural communities for the first time.” That means you!

To read the full press release, click here. Think Broadband have covered it here.

But there is a catch…

The plans rely on getting access to BT Openreach’s underground ducts and telegraph poles on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. As some of you know, this hasn’t been straightforward. Last week, a letter to Ed Vaizey signed by Fujitsu and Virgin Media was leaked, in which they threatened to boycott the BDUK pilots unless BT revised its prices for duct and pole access. Watch this space…