Jenkins-Of-Ewelme Web Site

Beginners Guide to Broadband in Ewelme (and other villages)

This little 'Q & A' guide was written to assist Ewelme Parish Council convey a view of the current state of broadband in Ewelme. Hopefully, it may also help some people living in other rural areas.

·         Q.   What is ‘Broadband?

·         A.    It is a means of transferring ‘data’ (emails, pictures, web pages, radio, TV) by electronic means either along a piece of wire (telephone line),or  via optical cable (using light) or by wireless (like your radio, TV or mobile phone).


·         Q.   I’ve got a telephone line, so can I get it?

·         A.    Potentially you can, but there are only a limited number of telephone lines coming into Ewelme capable of transferring data at sufficiently high speeds to allow broadband data to be used usefully.


·         Q.   Could I still make a connection to the Internet using my computer without broadband?

·         A.    Yes. You would use something called a ‘dial-up’ connection, which allows a certain amount of  access to services offered on the internet (emails, web site browsing),  but compared with the speed offered by broadband, this can be painfully slow.


·         Q.   So if I haven’t got it via my telephone line now, does this mean that I can’t get broadband?

·         A.    It is unlikely that you will now be able to get broadband by means of your current telephone line, but there are now other ways of getting broadband in Ewelme even though your telephone line is not suitable.


·         Q.   I don’t understand what ‘high speed’ means when people and the media talk about broadband.

·         A.    You have to understand that ‘information’ and ‘data’ is sent over the various media described above in a digital form. That is, by means of a serial stream of pulses or ‘bits’. So, when an email is sent out or a web page is received, it can be defined as being made up from a number of bits. However, such items can consist of thousands (Kilobits, Kb) or millions (Megabits, Mb) of bits. The speed at which an email is sent out or a web page is received can therefore be defined as a number of  Kilobits per second (Kbs) or more commonly in broadband terms, in Megabits per second. We also talk about MegaBYTES when discussing sizes of memory in for example a PC, MP3 player, camera, etc.. A Megabyte (MB) has about 10 times the number of bits as a Megabit (Mb) So, a 100 KB picture or music file will actually be the same as that good old 1Mb file when transferred over the internet.


·         Q.   So, when someone says “We’ve got up to eight meg broadband”, does that mean 8 Megabits per second?

·         A.    That’s right. It means that the person could potentially receive say a 1 Mb web page (consisting of some words, pictures and animations) and display it on their PC screen in one eighth of a second (0.125s). However, a broadband connection rarely transfers data at its maximum potential and depends on the time of day and how many people are also using it. But it does provide an idea of whether data is travelling down a slow country lane or a fast motorway so to speak!


·         Q.   So, what speeds can we get in Ewelme?

·         A.    Well, if we take the example of downloading that 1Mb web page again, this would take at least 20 seconds to fully display itself on a PC screen using a dial up connection, and between just under 1 and 2 seconds by using the telephone broadband available in Ewelme. In other words, dial up can transfer data at best around 50 Kbs, and depending on your location in Ewelme (distance from the BT cabinet at Kings Pool), will transfer from about just under 500 Kbs to just over 1 Mbs (1000 Kbs).


·         Q.   So is anything being done so that I can also get broadband?

·         A.    For many years, a lot of effort has been made to try and improve the situation regarding broadband in Ewelme. A wireless network was set up around Ewelme so that some residents could pick up broadband via Wi-Fi from various points in the village and beyond. This network was then connected to one of two households that had a direct connection to broadband. In other words, those who could get broadband sharing with those who couldn’t.  A new telephone cable was laid by BT in 2007, enabling up to 50 additional households to get broadband. Then over three years ago, wireless broadband became available to this area, and has evolved into an improved alternative to telephone line broadband.


·         Q.   I don’t know what Wi-Fi is.

·         A.    Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity) is just another method of connecting electronic devices (computers, mobile phones, printers, etc) together by wireless, so that data can be passed between them at high speed. This is usually done over a short distance within the home, café, airport etc., although by using external aerials, the distance between devices can be much further. A good example of the usefulness of Wi-Fi is that provided within the Ewelme Store, where your laptop or smart phone can be connected to the internet (free) using Wi-Fi linked to the Store’s broadband connection.


·         Q.   Why haven’t you mentioned ‘cable’ or ‘fibre’ yet? Isn’t this what BT, Virgin and Sky are advertising?

·         A.    People who live in towns and cities, if they haven’t already got it, expect that before too long their house, or a nearby roadside box will have a fibre optic cable installed. This will enable local residents to be able to connect to the internet at various data rates spanning from 8 Mbs towards 40 Mbs and beyond. It will all depend on the exchange, distance from exchange, and service provider as to whether you get it and at what speed.


·         Q.   So, when do we get it?

·         A.    Being in a rural area, where villages have limited and scattered populations, it is not always commercially feasible to lay expensive fibre optic cables to villages like ours, so we tend, not unexpectedly, to lag behind towns and cities in this respect.


·         Q.   Didn’t I hear that Blewbury are getting their own fibre optic cable sometime this year?

·         A.    Yes, they won a competition from BT, to short cut the aim to get two thirds of the country installed with cable by 2015. So, it could be some time before Ewelme gets the same opportunity. However, campaigns by local and national groups, together with the County Council are currently attempting to get government funds and private enterprise support, to use whatever means possible to get broadband into rural areas by means of cable and wireless. But it should be noted that according to the latest published reports, it will be at least mid 2013 before residents of Ewelme will have an opportunity to try broadband via fibre optic cable.


·         Q.   You mentioned that wireless broadband was already available in Ewelme?

·         A.    Yes. There are now over 40 households in Ewelme using this method to get broadband, either because they only previously had dial-up, or as an improvement to what is currently possible by telephone line.


·         Q.   What speed can you get with wireless broadband?

·         A.    Speeds in Ewelme have been measured ‘up to’ 10 Mbs. That means that even at its average download rate, that ubiquitous 1 Mb web page would download via wireless 10 times faster than entry level telephone line broadband here, and 100 times faster than dial-up.


·         Q.   So, how can I get wireless broadband while waiting for a cable to arrive in this village?

·         A.    You need to buy a mobile broadband ‘dongle’ from the high street mobile phone company ‘Three’ (or more recently Vodafone). There are various models, which connect via a cable or by Wi-Fi to your computer, and these act as an aerial to the broadband wireless signal in this area. You then pay a monthly subscription for a certain amount of data usage within a month,  e.g.  1 ,5, 10 Gigabits (1 Gb  = 1000 Mb – a thousand of those 1 Mb web pages).


 ·        Q    I've actually been using  mobile broadband for some time now, but why even with a good signal indicated, can't I get the speeds you are suggesting are available?

 ·         A.    If you have had 3G for a while, it is quite likely that the dongle or wireless router you are using has been superseded with one capable of transferring data at higher speeds and is more sensitive to weaker signals. The fact is, that the local Three network has been 'upgraded' twice since we were first able to use it, and Vodafone has appeared on the scene, so you need to ensure that you keep your equipment up to date in order to achieve the best broadband experience.


·         Q.   I've got a mobile (smart) phone which has 3G on it. Can I use that?

·         A.    Well, you could do if it was bought from a provider that has enabled 3G in this area. The point is, that these devices are designed to be portable (mobile!) and meant to be carried with you and used when you are out and about as well as at home. It is true that some devices allow 'tethering', meaning that they can be plugged into a PC and act as a Wi-Fi router. But to get the best out of these in terms of signal strength and speed in Ewelme, they would still need to be mounted on a window pane, and possibly not too convenient when you get a phone call! Also the cost of your data allowance tends to be more expensive with a mobile phone (£ per Gb) compared with using a fixed dongle/router, unless you are prepared to pay for an 'all you can eat' contract.


·         Q.   My mobile phone contract is with Vodafone (or another local provider). Is it best that I get my 3G dongle/router from the same supplier?

·         A.   Only if that is the company providing the best 3G signal strength and speed at your location. For example, if you have a phone supplied by Three and you want to get a Three dongle/router, you might be able to negotiate a better contract in terms of a lower monthly payment. However, if you have an O2 phone, even if the signal strength is very good at home, DON'T buy an O2 dongle, since currently they just don't provide a 3G service in this area!!


·         Q.   How can I get help to get up and running?

·         A.    Look at the information and links associated with the section on Broadband on the  web site. You can also contact the parish council to ask questions by emailing There is also a lot more information on this site at 3G in Ewelme and 4G versus Cable. You are also welcome to contact me on 828200 to discuss the possibility of a wireless broadband signal/speed test being done at your location.