Broadband boost for rural areas

Businesses and families in rural parts of north Norfolk will be able to get faster broadband after a new wireless system was launched today.

ThinkingWISP was developed over a year by the Norfolk Rural Community Council (NRCC), AF Affinity, a subsidiary of Anglia Farmers agricultural buying group in Honingham Thorpe, near Norwich, and InTouch Systems, based in Hurricane Way, Norwich, which provides IT systems to businesses, government and schools.

Homes and businesses which use the ThinkingWISP wi-fi technology do not need a phone line and have a choice of three different speeds of broadband - three, eight or 10 Mbs (megabits per second).

The system, which received just over �37,000 from Defra and the EU, uses radio waves from a transmitter at Norwich Airport to a mast close to Marsham, near Aylsham.

Transmitters on the mast then broadcast the signal in all directions to small aerials, which are fixed on to properties.


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George Bell, chairman of AF Affinity, said: 'Many of our members rely on the internet to run rural businesses and farms. Getting fast, reliable and high quality broadband is essential to living and working in the countryside.'

Jon Clemo, chief executive of the NRCC, said that so far 500 people have expressed an interest in the technology, which costs �15.99 a month or �50.99 for a business plus package.

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'We know there has been lots of talk about broadband speed but this is something that people can benefit from now,' he added.

Earlier this year the EDP launched its Back the Broadband Bid campaign, before the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) announced in May that it would award Norfolk County Council a �15m grant.

The ambitious scheme to introduce faster broadband will cost �60m and work has already started. By March 2015, every home and business in Norfolk should have access to speeds of at least 2Mbps.

Thinking WISP is initially available in the areas around Aylsham, Cawston, and Reepham, but Mr Clemo said he hoped the project was developed to cover a wider area.

George Freeman, MP for mid Norfolk, said: 'Fast broadband is vital for the rural economy. I welcome any scheme like this which develops innovative ways of rolling out fast broadband.'

For information, ring 01603 558001 or visit www.thinkingWISP.co.uk

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