Barham which is a small village in Kent (estimated population 1100) looks set to jump the queue in terms of broadband speeds with the roll-out by VFast of its WiMax based fixed wireless solution. The press release can be downloaded as a PDF document on the VFast website.
The WiMax service requires the fitting of a small antenna to the outside of each property pointing towards the VFast network node that offers the best signal and as such overcomes many of the problems that exist with the length of telephone lines. Barham itself is around four to five kilometres from the exchange located in Bridge, which means ADSL speeds are likely to be in the 1 to 2Mbps range and the size of the exchange also means no cheap unbundled services are available.
As the wireless access in Barham was provided as part of Kent County Council's policy to address broadband not-spots, the set of packages for this area can be seen at www.vfast.co.uk/barham. VLite will offer a basic web surfing package with 2Mbps downloads, and 15GB of monthly usage for £17.99 (it has port blocks to inhibit VoIP, gaming, VPN and some other activities). VHome is unlimited at 10Mbps down, 2Mbps up (upgrading to 25Mbps down) for £24.99. VMax will shortly upgrade to a 50Mbps solution for £36.99.
The VFast website for people not in the Barham area currently gives consumers two product options, 10Meg down/2Meg up for £24.99 a month, or a 10Meg symmetric service with lower contention for £36.99 a month. Both products carry a £99 installation fee which covers the fitting of the antenna. While the £24.99 may seem high compared to the TV adverts for other broadband providers, bear in mind the TV adverts refer to the 70 to 80% of the UK where unbundled services are available. In the remaining parts of the UK there can be a surcharge of £5 to £15 a month, and the product options are more limited.