Tenacious Talaton’s battle for broadband

Residents of the village of Talaton in Devon had their 15 minutes of fame recently when their battle to get decent broadband was featured on the BBC. Frustrated with internet speeds of as low as 0.5 Mbs, the 400 people of Talaton have been on a mission to join the digital age for the last few years.

So close but still so far

While the two telephone exchanges closest to the village had both been upgraded to support superfast broadband services, at 2.5 miles away, Talaton lies beyond the ‘magic mile,’ the point at which speeds start to degrade.

Residents had hoped that the village would get a high speed fibre optic connection via fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which would bring superfast broadband right into the heart of the village. It took a freedom of information request for them to find out that there were no such plans. At this point, their only option was to self-fund the rollout, but this would come with an astronomical price tag of £90,000, a figure completely unaffordable for the 120 homes desperate for decent broadband.

Hope on the horizon

Things began to change when villagers learnt they were eligible to claim vouchers from the Connecting Devon & Somerset Scheme. Although these vouchers weren’t enough to cover the cost of rolling out FTTC, it meant residents could investigate more cost-effective broadband options.
Having assessed satellite, cellular and fibre services, the villagers decided to go with Voneus’ fixed wireless broadband. This could be rolled out quickly, had minimal impact on the environment and offered connection speeds of between 30Mbs and 50Mbs. Plus, their research showed it was backed up with great customer service.

Getting connected

Voneus needed to get creative in order to get Talaton connected.

On the face of it, the simplest option was for Voneus to connect its wireless broadband network to the BT fibre infrastructure via one or other of the closest exchanges. In practice, gaining access to BT’s premises and ducts proved to be a time-consuming and complicated process, and the villagers of Talaton were understandably becoming increasing impatient.

As an alternative, Voneus approached Exeter Science Park, which has its own high-speed fibre network, provided by Virgin Media. The Science Park was eager to help the local community so the three organisations – the Park, Voneus and Virgin Media – put their heads together to work out the best and quickest way to get Talaton on net.

In a matter of months, Voneus had built a bespoke wireless broadband network to connect the village of Talaton – including the most remote homes and farms – to the Science Park’s network, some 12 miles away. After years of waiting, the community at last had broadband speeds fit for the 21st Century.

Graham Rooms, resident and broadband champion of Talaton, sums up the difference this has made:

“For years, we’ve struggled to do the most basic of things online – banking or shopping were difficult enough; watching Netflix was completely impossible.

“We’ve fought for years to bring decent broadband speeds to our community, but that fight got a whole lot easier when we met the team at Voneus, who understood our frustration and showed real empathy for our predicament. My only wish is we had found them earlier in the process.

Today, with Voneus’ help, our village is revived. We can watch films online, stream music and SKYPE loved ones far way. It’s a boost to our economy too, as it gives our residents the option to work more flexibly.”