Lifeboat Crew Rescue Themselves From Broadband Isolation

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The RNLI station in a remote area of rural Humberside is on the way to having a 100Mbps connection – considerably better than the connection available to most of the local population

While the Digital Britain report might have laid out an optimistic plan for providing broadband – of sorts – to all of the UK, an RNLI crew in rural Humberside decided that progress wasn’t happening quite fast enough and literally dug their own highspeed connection.

Local broadband provider Fibrestream has an ongoing campaign to help connect so-called broadband “notspots”. Together with a group of partners including Emtelle, AFL Fujikura, LG Nortel, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Steve Medcalf Builders, Fibrestream is connecting the local RNLI lifeboat station, at remote Spurn Point,to a 100Mbps connection.

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“We’ve got BT dial-up, which is what everybody had 20 years ago,” superintendent coxswain of the boat, Dave Steenvoorden told the Yorkshire Post. “It’s the children of the families which really suffer, especially as the young are so internet-savvy. They’re taking five minutes to download a picture from their friends.”

But rather than hire expensive machinery to bury the cables, last week the local community together with the RNLI crew themselves dug the trenches to lay-in the cables for the broadband connection. “The fibre optic cables and ducting have been delivered to site and the next step is to bury them!,” Fibrestream said in a blog posting.

“Fibrestream is proud to bring FttH to the crew and families of RNLI Humber, located in one of the most remote-rural parts of the country. So c’mon if you want to lend a hand then please get in touch and together we can fix a day and get digging!,” the organisation said in a blog post.

With the cable now laid in the ground, the next stage of the project is to activate the equipment and make the connection live, according to Fibrestream.

“The internet comes into the site, initially using a microwave system, from Easington a few miles away,” Guy Jarvis, a director of Fibrestream, told the Yorkshire Post.”Then we distribute it using fibre optic cable to the families and the base itself.”

When fully operational, the broadband connection will be some 50 times faster than the minimum 2mbps connection laid out in the recent Digital Britain report however large parts of rural Yorkshire still don’t have adequate broadband access

UK consumers get about half the speed their providers promise, according to a recent Ofcom report. But speeds are gradually improving.

The average broadband speed users get is 4Mbps, while most popular services promise speeds “up to” 8Mbps, according to a report published by the UK telecom regulator Ofcom today. Cable came out ahead – for those who can get it – and the report noted that speeds were increasing – the average was only 3.6Mbps in January.