Rural broadband network able to cope with demand, according to telecoms MD

Steve Temple and Nick Snelling from InTouch Systems pictured when they bought WiSpire. Pic: Archant

Steve Temple and Nick Snelling from InTouch Systems pictured when they bought WiSpire. Pic: Archant

The boss of a firm ‘keeping Norfolk communicating’ reckons rural internet usage is currently only at 65% of its capacity.

Telecoms MD Steve Temple reckons people working from home and youngsters doing school and college work remotely as a result of coronavirus has seen around a 25% increase in internet usage across rural Norfolk.

But he is not seeing the usual ‘pre-coronavirus’ peaks of 5pm-7pm when many people used to get home from work and start to stream Netflix or music. Instead the usage is flattening out during the day, he said.

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Mr Temple runs a telecoms company which two years ago extended its wireless network across the county after buying a broadband provider which uses church steeples and other high buildings as transmission masts for signals. His firm InTouch Systems is responsible for much of the internet provision across Norfolk and counties beyond, right across from north Suffolk to Peterborough.

He said that even with the increased traffic as a result of the change in people’s lifestyles, usage was nowhere near its peak and he was confident there would be no immediate problems.

But he said he and his team of 30, including two people installing systems and a number of engineers, were working flat out as calls were coming in fast from people needing their systems upgraded to enable them to work from home more easily.

“I can’t foresee any problems at the moment. We are working really hard, our team doing the installations are completely booked up for the next three weeks and we are getting a lot of phone calls from people saying they need to work from home ‘today’ – really we need people to plan a little more but we are doing what we can for everyone who contacts us.

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“At peak times we are at around 60-65% of the capacity giving us another 35% headroom, we are seeing traffic spread out during the day rather than the usual peak of 5-7pm when everyone used to start watching Netflix. So although traffic is higher we aren’t seeing the daily peaks.

“The rural network is designed to cope but anyone relying on a standard network operator is going to suffer, a traditional BT broadband connection is not going to have the capacity.”

Mr Temple has been running InTouch Systems, based in Hurricane Way, Norwich for about six years. He acquired the broadband provider WiSpire from the publisher of this newspaper, Archant, and the Diocese of Norwich in 2018 to add to his existing system, called ITSwisp, which uses its own masts placed across the county. He now has masts at more than 100 locations across Norfolk.

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