Summary of Cumbria County Council Broadband Hub Coordinators’ Meeting 25th Sept 2012

04/10/2012 in Broadband by Charles Paxton
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Cumbria County Council Cabinet’s decision on 13 September to award a contract to BT Global Services is subject to a call in period until the end of week commencing 24 September. The contract has not been signed and the date of signature is not yet known. Information on the detail of the contract will not be available until the contract has been signed. State Aid approval is the major issue outstanding. A decision on State Aid is expected at the end of October or early November.

Carrying out the second procurement exercise has proved worthwhile.  BT has responded to the Council’s specification. A number of benefits had been secured between the first and second procurement exercises. It is the intention of the contract to provide 100% coverage of 2mbps or more in those areas of market failure eligible for BDUK funding; and to provide 93% coverage of Superfast Broadband (24mbps or more).

The roll-out plan is currently expected to be considered by Cumbria County Council Cabinet in January 2013, however, this could be delayed depending on timetables for contract signature and State Aid approval.

The Rural Communities Broadband Fund expression of interest submitted on behalf of Cumbria County Council and 6 communities (including Shap exchange) has successfully moved on to the next stage. The feedback has been positive about the engagement between the Council and communities.

Eden Valley Digital and Gt Asby Broadband are working together with CCC, the government agency BDUK and DEFRA to create an invitation to tender to procure a supplier for a SFBB project for the parishes of Bolton, Cliburn, Crosby Ravensworth (including Reagill and Maulds Meaburn), Sleagill, Great Asby, Kings Meaburn, Morland and Newby.  Progress will be posted on the newspage of our Eden Valley Digital website

Meanwhile Lonsdale NETWORK has taken over the assets of the defunct NextGenUs, has installed a mast on Whinfell, and is offering a wireless broadband service to many parts of the area. This may well appeal to many. Look out for their announcements.

Thoughts On Use of Apps In Mountain Navigation

04/09/2012 in Apps by Charles Paxton
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Malcolm Wade, Mountain Leader

The below linked reblog from Malcolm Wade, navigation instructor of Lakeland Mountain Experience ,  explores use of apps in mountain navigation and cautions against over-reliance upon electronics for navigating walks in our wild and beautiful Cumbrian Fells.

Many of you’ll know Malcolm Wade from the East Cumbria Community Broadband Forum and our EVD meetings last year. Some of you might not know that he normally volunteers in our wildly beautiful Lake District National Park as a Fix The Fells Lengthsman and serves as a Mountain Guide leading guided walks in the Lakeland Fells. As a broadband champion he is no technophobe, but as the article on his blog strongly argues,  sound navigation skills are really important and people shouldn’t just rely upon apps for safe mountain walking.

Beware of smartphones on mountains…….courtesy of the BMC – oh and Sir Chris Bonington!



Four items of interest

15/06/2012 in Broadband by Charles Paxton
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There are four news items that may be of interest:

1) CCC has rejected the Fujitsu and BT bids for  superfast broadband in Cumbria because neither bid met the technical requirements.  Please see the article below for details.

North West Evening Mail | Cumbria Broadband delayed again as BT and Fujitsu bids rejected

2) Our MP for Penrith and the border, Rory Stewart and Miles Mandleson of Great Asby Broadband Group recently spoke before The House of Lords’ Select Committee on Communications about broadband development. Our thanks to them both for helping to clarify the realities of the situation.

3) EVD Directors and Technical Officers met with key CCC staff yesterday to discuss broadband development and our way forward. EVD Directors unanimously agreed with CCC’s proposal, details of which are under NDA.

4) The levels of SPAM to this blog are so high that I have stopped reading comments to this blog that don’t have the words “For publication” in the subject line. Also genuine communications can be sent to EVD via our website Please add  ”For publication” in the subject line if you intend the communication to be published. All comments are moderated and the Editor reserves the right  to publish or not as he sees fit and his decision is final. Thank you for your understanding.

May 7th EVD News Update

07/05/2012 in Broadband, Press Release by Charles Paxton
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Eden Valley Digital and Broadband update May 6th 2012

You may be wondering what has been happening. Things have been quiet for the past three months while DEFRA considered our application for gap funding to enable Openreach (a member of the BT Group) to bring fibre optic cables to “cabinets” in Bolton, Cliburn, Crosby Ravensworth, Maulds Meaburn, and Morland. This would greatly increase broadband speeds to premises within 1.4km of the cabinets using the existing copper network. It would not help Kings Meaburn, Sleagill and Reagill but it was the best offer we could get at the time.

DEFRA have now come back with various questions which we have until 29th June to answer. Meanwhile the wider County Council procurement process has not yet been settled, and the five Cumbrian pilot schemes, of which we are one, may be caught up with that, in ways which are not yet decided. We remain “cautiously optimistic” but also have a sense of frustration about the uncertainty of the process.

In a separate development, NextGenUs which was providing a wireless service to some local communities went into administration in April. However its service had sufficiently impressed Lord Lonsdale who lives in Newby parish and his agent who lives near Cliburn that the Lowther Estate bought the assets of NextGenUs. The new owners, Lowther Network Services have revived the network as it was, and is currently considering its future. EVD is very ready to work with Lowther Network Services if their plans benefit our parishes, particularly those left out of the DEFRA funded scheme.

Look out for further updates on our website

Happy Easter and News Update

05/04/2012 in Big Society, Broadband by Charles Paxton
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EVD would like to take the opportunity of wishing you all a very happy Easter.

Here is a brief news update to enjoy with your chocolate eggs:

1. EVD has submitted a business plan for DEFRA funding. It would bring backhaul to the villages of Crosby Ravensworth, Maulds Meaburn, Cliburn, Morland and Bolton first and allow for later deployment of SFBB to outliers, possibly by White Space Radio. If our application is approved there would be a funding gap between the time we’d need to pay our chosen provider and the payment of the grant that would enable the provision.

I was heartened to read the article The trench warfare that built the Big Society in The Telegraph Online this morning. There is still attractive affordable housing available in Crosby Ravensworth. The article is of particular interest to us as there are a number of community projects being formulated that could well be launched with the help of Big Society loans, including EVD’s Community Broadband project.

2. I went along to the CALC meeting on March 27th, amongst other things to hear Jim Savege of Cumbria County Council speak on broadband. He gave a good summary of the current scenario, said that he too is awaiting news about the status of the community broadband pilots. He says that news about the pilots will be forthcoming very soon.

News about the wider procurement :  CCC is 4/5ths of the way through the process. The determining questions being how many premises can BT or Fujitsu cover and how fast will the service be. He said that they would start in rural areas and work backwards to the denser populated areas but couldn’t guarantee 100% coverage at superfast speeds. The minimum 2 Mbps target for 2015 stands.
(BT has already pledged to serve Penrith, Carlisle, Kendal and Broughton-in Furness with SFBB)

The Fujitsu work is still secret to us. Commendium have been testing service in Shap over electricity wires.

Cumbria is likely to host a National Pilot for 4G Mobile in a couple of years. CCC are aware that 18-20 million visitors to Cumbria will need the connectivity too, it’s not just the static population that will be served.

CCC are bidding for about £15 M from the European Union.
I asked Jim where he thought developments in Telemedicine need to happen first, i.e. from the NHS end or the prospective user end, he said simultaneously. It is likely that we will need a new volunteer base of interested parties and are likely to establish a sub-group committee. Call me at 01931-715270 if you are keen to be involved as a patient or from the perspective of health care provision.

Jim was talking in terms of domestic users at home and GPs. I asked whether he envisions village halls playing a role and he said yes, possibly and possibly schools, to cater for people who don’t have the necessary speeds at home.

3. NextGenUs is still serving their customers and remains a valid option for area residents wishing faster connectivity now. EVD’s technical advisor is using the wireless service and reports rapid and helpful response from their technical support. For the latest news about NextGenUs please see their  blog for updates.

4. EVD’s application for Digital Service Centres from EDC Rural Community Infrastructure Grant fund has been approved to enter the second phase of application and is undergoing some necessary minor revisions. Projects with some match funding are likely to receive greater consideration. Competition will be intense.

Watch this space for further news.




Beware Unsolicited Telephone Calls re: Computer Virus

in Scams and cons by Charles Paxton
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This message just in from CCC via Cumbria Community Messaging:
Information sent on behalf of Cumbria County Council

Trading Standards are warning consumers that the people behind the unsolicited telephone calls, stating you have a virus on their computer, appear to have changed their strategy.

The caller will offer ‘free security checks’ or tell you that a virus has been detected on your computer.

The caller will then give instructions which will allow remote access of your machine or in some cases they will ask for credit card information to pay for the service.

The latest information is that they are now stating to be from BT, whereas previously they indicated they were from Microsoft.  The advice remains the same; if you receive such a call to hang up.

For further advice or to report one of these telephone calls, please contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 04 05 06 or visit

Message sent by
Margaret Hodgson (Cumbria County Council, Administrator, Cumbria)

EVD Community Broadband News Update

13/02/2012 in Broadband by Charles Paxton
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1. EVD submits business plan to DEFRA
With the assistance of Genecon (professional consultancy), Eden Valley Digital has prepared and submitted it’s business plan to DEFRA for funding of our Community Broadband plans.
The plan is to work with the chosen provider to bring fibre to upgraded cabinets in Maulds Meaburn and Crosby Ravensworth, Morland, Bolton and Cliburn that would supply superfast broadband over telephone wires via a range of Internet Service Providers to residents within those villages in the second quarter of 2012 . If all goes well some lines in Crosby Ravensworth Parish that currently run to the Exchange will be rerouted to the cabinets in order for SFBB to be enabled.

In the plan we have emphasized the growing importance of better broadband for our families, businesses and community groups.

EVD is in communication with Cumbria County Council about the gap funding necessary (£93,000) to bridge the period between commitment by the Chosen Provider, the work being carried out and receipt of the RDPE grant. The Community Pilots may become part of the Cumbria wide roll-out to overcome the gap-funding hurdle. The funding decision will be announced on 26th March.

I am still awaiting permissions from various people to submit their names, first line of address, phone numbers and post codes to our Chosen Provider for planning purposes, at this stage nothing is contractual ( no prices have been publicised ), but our chosen provider would like to know the extent of the strong interest. Crosby Ravensworth Parish is lagging behind in this regard.

The key advantages of EVD’s plan for our Parishioners are:

  1.  There’s a good balance of value for money, options, reliability and future continuity.
  2.  Our individual choice of internet service providers would be retained. People who want to stick with their current ISP can upgrade with them, others may switch to another provider of their choice.
  3.  We are likely to benefit from national pricing competition and access to a choice of popular  ‘packages’ available to people in cities that offer different options. People can seek their preferred ratio of speed and price.
  4.  This proposal opens a development path for future upgrades and open options (Fibre to the premises is an option for those who need more speed and can pay for it).
  5.  EVD has growing confidence that outlying premises in our Parish and neighbouring areas could be served by a White Space Radio option that would be facilitated by the Chosen Provider.
  6.  Maintenance of the system would be conducted by a national organisation with large resources.

Things to note:

  • There would be a new contract, it’s likely that the Internet Service providers will make it as attractive and seamless a process as possible. I can confirm that this has been the offer in one case within Crosby Ravensworth Parish where a household has signed a contract that would be upgraded upon installation of the necessary infrastructure.
  • There would be a site visit by an engineer to upgrade the face-plate in your premises to enable superfast broadband.

2. EVD Submits Request For Grant Funding For Digital Service Centres.

If our application to EDC’s Rural Community Infrastructure Fund is successful we hope to install digital equipment in 6 Digital Service Centres within the Leith-Lyvennet area. The funding decision will be announced on 24th Feb.  Access to SFBB will be critical for the success of this local initiative.  The project aims are to encourage use of the Internet and to help people derive benefit from digital developments for business, social interaction, education, medical care and entertainment. We don’t know the extent of the potential benefits, nobody does, but we are sure that human ingenuity will continue to drive progress in digital technologies and their applications.

Amongst other ideas a drop in ‘cyber café’ or ‘Internet Exchange’ has been proposed, that would provide Internet access for all people but is likely to be especially useful for those who are ‘fearful’ of using computers and the internet. We would have the opportunity to meet ‘computer buddies’ to guide us through the benefits of superfast broadband and to share knowledge about the many different current and future applications as they become available.

Video conferencing would be an asset for business, social and educational meetings. e.g. birthday, wedding, funeral parties, community group meetings that can be shared by communicating with people who are unable to attend. Schools could share ‘tele-lessons’ delivered by specialist staff transmitted by video to other suitably equipped parish halls or schools.
Telemedicine: The use for telemedicine would depend on participating surgeries and hospitals e.g. Surgeries at Temple Sowerby and Shap, Hospitals at Newcastle and Sunderland.

3D/HD television would be used to broadcast important events, such as the 2012 Olympic Games and possibly the Queens’ Golden Jubilee where otherwise only a tiny minority would have the facility to view in 3D. With a superfast broadband internet link to village halls, communities could mix and share these ‘once in a lifetime’ social events.

3. Alternative Superfast Broadband Providers.
Craig Brass has recently resigned as NextGenUs (NGU) Cumbria Manager. NGU continue to offer superfast broadband over wireless in the EVD area. Their service is operational in Cliburn and King’s Meaburn.
Please see their website for details.

I encourage you to discuss the topic with your family, friends and neighbours. People who say they are happy with what they’ve got now, would likely be less happy when services develop to require more speed and their user-experience deteriorates.

Thank you and best wishes

Charles Paxton

Wikipedia UK Black-out Protests Threat of Web Censorship Tomorrow

17/01/2012 in Uncategorized by Charles Paxton
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Internet users will not be able to access Wikipedia on January 18th. The service is being withdrawn temporarily to give us a taste of information denial as a public protest against US legislation.


The EVD Meeting Set For January 17th Is Postponed

11/01/2012 in Broadband by Charles Paxton
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Hello again,

Here is the latest news on digital matters.

Please note that the EVD meeting scheduled for January 17th at Cliburn Village Hall has been postponed because it’s believed to make more sense to meet later, after Cumbria County Council have made their selection of a provider in the Cumbria-wide procurement.

2. Preparation of a business plan
Throughout the Leith-Lyvennet area, the Parish broadband champions are now in the process of completing their data collection from residents for expression of interest in superfast broadband as part of a broader business plan that will be submitted at the end of the month.

3. Advice on sending emails from Android mobile phones.
One of our residents explained recently that it is possible to send emails from Android mobile devices without having to use a googlemail email address.
Apparently you can use your existing email address provided that your outgoing SMTP settings are configured to use port 2525.

4. To receive free Alert messages via your preferred method  from Cumbria Community Messaging system please register at

NB: This is free service for us, but being alerted by email is by far the cheapest method of being contacted for CCC, so choosing that method cuts local authority costs.

5. EVD is going to apply for funds from EDC Rural Community Infrastructure fund for a Digital Services Centre at Maulds Meaburn Village Institute and two nodes at Reagill Village Hall and Crosby Ravensworth Village Hall.
More information on our application will follow in due course.

Best wishes,


EVD Broadband Meeting At Cliburn Village Hall January 17th 7.00 pm

05/01/2012 in Broadband by Charles Paxton
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Happy new year everyone. EVD will be holding a meeting on the subject of local superfast broadband on the 17th of January at 7.00 pm at Cliburn Village Hall. All residents of the area covered by the Leith-Lyvennet Church newsletter are invited to attend. Eden Valley Digital Directors will deliver an update and Jim Savege of CCC, Steve Edwards of BT and Craig Brass of NextGenUs have been invited to speak and answer questions from the floor.

Many thanks and best wishes for faster internet services in 2012.