Catherine and Stephen Crees live and work with their two children in the beautiful and remote College Valley that lies within the Northumberland National Park, more than 25 miles from Alnwick.
Stephen is the manager for College Valley Estates, an upland estate where forestry, farming, conservation and tourism are the main activities. Catherine works part-time for the estate on events in the village hall and on lettings for the four holiday cottages and bunkhouse.
At one end of the valley, fixed broadband was poor with speeds well under 0.5Mbps whilst further along fixed broadband was non-existent and some of the properties had resorted to satellite connections where the signal could be intermittent, affected by poor weather and with limited data packages. The valley also has no mobile signal.
In the summer of 2019, Catherine and Stephen learned of a government scheme to support installation costs for gigabit-capable broadband in rural areas through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) and were able to approach Alncom to access the funding. Gigabit-capable broadband was installed along the valley through a hybrid system of full fibre and wireless connections.
The scheme went live in November 2019. There were no installation charges, the new monthly costs are more than 100% cheaper and all connections have an unlimited data allowance.
“The new internet is brilliant! It is very fast and there is no difference if four or five people use it at once. We also don’t have mobile phone signal here so now have our phones on ‘Wi-fi calling’ and the quality of the calls is superb - and it has also saved us a fortune on phone bills. I must say that home schooling during lockdown would have been very difficult without it and it got the seal of approval from my children who can now use the internet to maintain contact with friends and there is no longer any lag for my son when gaming.”Catherine Crees
Half of the village of Ellingham has Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) connections but, as is so typical in rural areas, the other half, and most of the surrounding area, had to rely on antiquated copper connections resulting in painfully slow broadband speed.
Alncom were contacted by the residents following the frustration of a failed and lengthy community fibre project. There had been many, many months of a major Network Provider talking about what they might have been able to do and asking for commitment from residents, but, eventually, it was deemed too costly to proceed.
Alncom quickly established that the project would be viable, and our local knowledge meant that we were able to design a solution within days. The project included approximately 11 kms of full fibre cable to build a new network which includes Ellingham, Newham Village, Newham Hall, and business’s in Coldrife and West Fleetham.
Our team commenced work almost immediately and, from inception, we had live Ultrafast fibre connections around this extremely rural area within 4 weeks! The whole network was fully funded by vouchers from both theGigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) and the Borderland’s Top Up Scheme resulting in zero cost to the residents who now enjoy gigabit capable broadband speeds. The most popular package is 100mbps unlimited for £24.99 - a massive improvement over their original sub 1mbps copper connections!
This beautiful part of the county, with a wide mix of residential properties and business’s, suffered from slow broadband speeds and, as a direct result of our sales team’s efforts, Alncom were asked to be involved.
It was not just the farming community that were suffering though. This area is also home to an eclectic mix of businesses from Bed & Breakfasts to a home crafting supplier and even a Milliners!
With three separate land owners included in the project, we were able to utilise access to their land to build our own full fibre infrastructure connecting properties with over 10Kms of fibre.
Within 3 weeks of establishing the demand for faster internet, Alncom had ‘spades in the ground’ and a week later the first actual Ultrafast connection was made. The whole project was completed in 6 weeks and the cost of installation was fully covered by the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) and the Borderland’s Top Up Scheme.
This is typical of Alncom’s ‘Get it Done’ ethos.
This is about giving us country folk the same opportunity as city and town dwellers. We have holiday cottages and many homes and businesses here and plans for Preston Towers to become a wedding venue. Personally, I am so grateful that Alncom are local and have helped our economy and community where all other network providers have failedHarry Baker Creswell, landowner at Chathill
The village of Ingram was originally part of a Community Fibre Project and then, after completing the two villages at the start of the project, Ingram was de-scoped & left with no hope of receiving fibre broadband!
Alncom were contacted and, with their ethos of ‘Get it Done’, leapt into action. There were thirty properties that were desperate for a decent broadband connection so, working closely with the Parish Council and land owners, they completed the planning and were able to get live connections very quickly. Local knowledge and a highly skilled technical team meant that making connections, in what has to be one of the most remote valleys in the country, was achieved with great speed and efficiency.
The whole network was fully funded by vouchers from both the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS) and the Borderland’s Top Up Scheme resulting in zero cost to the residents who now enjoy gigabit capable broadband speeds. The most popular package is 100mbps unlimited for £24.99 per month.
Just wanted to say thank you to all at Alncom who have been working in the valley to provide the new broadband supply to our community. Your team were very professional when entering my cottage and helpful in answering any questions I had. Thanks also for making such little disturbance over my paddock land. It needs rolling but that will have to wait a while till its dry….which could be a while!Len – Ingram Valley resident