Double Whammy Good News – Rural Broadband and vExpert Recognition

For those of you that have followed my crusade to acquire broadband for my rural hamlet, I wanted to share this exciting update!

A couple of colleagues highlighted this BBC article to me a few weeks back, London VMUG Chairman Simon Gallagher being one of them. All I can say to you Simon is, THANK YOU.

After a Twitter dialogue with EE’s customer service, they weren’t sure of their signal strength in my area so suggested I spoke to their team who could check. Long story short, they said I was right on the edge – how did they know me so well?! The edge of the signal strength I mean 🙂

They recommended ordering their router, but not the ‘shoe box’ antenna, to first determine if we could receive a decent enough signal. It was duly dispatched and arrived the following day. Installation is so simple; literally plug it into a power socket. The signal strength was OK, but placing it in the loft provided a boost, so there it remains. On average I’m getting download speeds in the region of 30Mbps and uploads of around 3Mbps – so acceptable and WAY better than my satellite broadband. I did wonder if the ‘shoe box’ antenna would provide a boost, so spoke to the antenna peeps that EE use. They said I’m getting pretty good speeds for my area and that the antenna would provide no additional signal, so not to bother. Great, a £100 saved! The cost of EE is comparable to my satellite, both £60 per month. However, I was restricted to 40GB/month on the satellite, but given I couldn’t stream anything, that wasn’t an issue! With EE I get 200GB for £60, but that is a special offer, so am hoping they won’t up the costs after the term of the contract ends.

I can now use VoIP and find that of all the options – Skype, WebEx, Go-to-Meeting, etc. – Zoom is by far the best service, highly recommend it! I’ve also subscribed to Netflix and have just binge watched The Crown. As one of my other friends that recommended looking at the EE service said the other day, “Dead chuffed for you Rimmer that you’ve finally got the Internet!” Yes, dear reader, I am now a 21st century digital citizen!

I do believe this solution to be a ‘stop gap’ though, as Superfast Berkshire has informed me that Gigaclear has been awarded the contract to provide FTTH to rural communities. Looking at Gigaclear’s website it would appear we’re scheduled to receive this sometime in 2019, so fingers crossed. I wonder what it would be like to have 100Mbps………

Then to top it all off, I’m so proud to be awarded vExpert status for the 8th year running! Wasn’t sure I’d done enough last year to be accepted again, but am humbled and delighted to retain my status. Thanks to Luciano Patrao for this logo on the vExpert Slack channel:

And finally, thank you to James Kilby for answering my question on the vExpert slack channel about how to upload an avatar to your vExpert directory profile. He recommended Gravatar and would appear it’s the only way to upload a profile pic on the new vExpert portal.