Cybermoor is a community owned co-operative for the residents of Alston Moor and the surrounding areas, Cumbria, which was started as an initiative to connect disadvantged communities to the Internet. Ubiquiti products were purchased from 4Gon Solutions to help build a new network.
The residents of Whitsome in the Scottish Borders had got by with slow broadband speeds since their telephone exchange was set up with "Exchange activate" offering a maximum download speed of 0.5Mbs. As services such as iPlayer and Youtube grew in popularity, residents were unable to make the most of them.
The community won funding in 2011 from the LEADER Programme and Scottish Government to improve broadband services in the area. Cybermoor was selected to deisgn, build and operate a wireless broadband service, based on its experience in Cumbria and Northumberland. Traditional broadband solutions were out of the question due to the distance and terrain between properties, so an alternative was necessary.
With previous experience installing networks across Cumbria supporting around 360 clients, Cybermoor drew on its experience and protocols for building the new network.
The project covered the Whitsome area and Cybermoor approached residents to identify sites to host equipment. They worked with the community to register people for the new service, and held demonstration events in the village hall.
Knowing the scale of users, the challenge was to create a network that could deliver a reliable and high speed connection for the residents of this rural community. The network was required to serve up to 100 people over 10mi2
The residents needed a connection that could handle rich media sites like BBC iPlayer, and also for the network to be expandable for the future.
4Gon Solutions supplied the Ubiquiti NanoStations and PowerBridges required to create the wireless network across the area.
The cost effectiveness of Ubiquiti products enable the solution to fall into budget while still allowing for future expansion and upgrades. Ubiquiti also offers traffic shaping, statistics and charts on user usage.
The benefit of the wireless connection was that it could be deployed rapidly, to meet the funders tight deadlines. Community assets like the village hall and local farms were used as relays, reducing the requirement to seek permissions and work with slow moving telecoms operators. The ability to update the individual access points in the network offers future firmware flexibility. The Azotel bandwidth management system was also put in place that allows data to be distributed evenly across access points, preventing any overload. Backhaul comes from bonded DSL at the school in a nearby village, keeping costs low.
The network that has been installed to connect the community was a great success. The community has developed a new social enterprise called Cybermoor Merse, to own the network, giving them a real stake in the future of the service.
Previously, there was not only physical separation, but economic distance too. The broadband network has not only connected the community.
Two other villages were connected to the network in Spring 2013 as it has expanded and plans are underway to connect more outlying properties.