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Satellite Broadband Prize Trial for Northamptonshire Farmer

A Northamptonshire farmer is experiencing faster broadband for the first time - via satellite- as part of a trial by Northamptonshire County Council to explore options to enhance connectivity in the most rural parts of the county.

The Superfast Northamptonshire project aims to secure fibre-based Next Generation Access to all homes and businesses by 2017 - three years ahead of European targets. However, there are some very rural parts of the county where connectivity is a real issue.

Left to right: Cllr Andre Gonzales de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council; Avonline Broadband managing director Mark Wynn, farmer Bruce Wilkinson, and Sophie Corke, NFU.

Left to right: Cllr Andre Gonzales de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council; Avonline Broadband managing director Mark Wynn, farmer Bruce Wilkinson, and Sophie Corke, NFU.

The County Council has partnered with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and Avonline Broadband to provide a Northamptonshire farmer a year's trial of Avonline's 20Mbps broadband package. Members of the NFU in Northamptonshire were asked to fill out a Broadband Survey to capture information on current service availability, usage and demand for faster speeds. A prize winner from participants was chosen at random.

The winner was KM Wilkinson and Son in Glapthorn, East Northamptonshire. Farmer Bruce Wilkinson has had his satellite dish installed and is now able to access a wider range of online services, including BBC I-Player.

Cllr Andre Gonzales de Savage said: "The farming community is a key sector for Northamptonshire and through this partnership with Avonline we are able to provide an enhanced service for Mr Wilkinson and his business. This will make day to day activities such as online reporting and trading much quicker and easier.

"The information from the Farmers' survey highlights the growing importance of access to faster broadband for everyone in the county." The County Council received over 100 responses to the survey, out of approximately 350 NFU members in the county.

Avonline Broadband is the UK's largest provider of the leading Tooway satellite broadband service, and managing director Mark Wynn said: "Our satellite broadband service delivers download speeds of up to 20Mbps anywhere in the UK immediately. Everyone can get fast broadband today through a satellite broadband system, no matter where they live. There is no phone line needed and no lengthy wait for an upgrade programme.

"We were delighted to install our service at Bruce's farm so he can enjoy a more reliable broadband connection."

Bruce Wilkinson farms almost 500 acres at Glapthorn, near Oundle and now mostly grows Miscanthus, a biomass crop which goes to create electricity at DRAX power station.

He said: "For the past five years we have had an unreliable and slow broadband service. Before the satellite was installed we certainly couldn't consider watching catch-up TV and managing business requirements online was difficult.

"We can now watch videos and download data much better than before - some videos were impossible previously."

Both Bruce and his wife Liz, who runs an agricultural training business from home, need broadband for their work. Bruce said: "Farmers are increasingly required to return reports to DEFRA online and for many that is a real problem so fast reliable broadband is very important to us."

Satellite Broadband can offer an immediate solution to get faster broadband and it is available almost anywhere as an interim or alternative solution. The County Council will be drawing on the experience of Bruce Wilkinson and his family, through the trial, to help other people in need of faster broadband, to make more informed decisions on options available whilst the project to deliver fibre based superfast broadband comes forward between now and 2017.


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