Wireless Internet Access in Eden Valley, Cumbria
The project centres around a community access idea, where users buy standard Wi-Fi (802.11b) wireless kit to connect to a central transmitter connected to a local network that will act as a community notice board. This local LAN will then have a backhaul connection to the Internet, though this backhaul is described as "limited access to the external world wide web". The speed of the system will obviously vary according to the quality of your wireless link and how the system is setup to share bandwidth around the users currently online. Potentially speeds in excess of 0.5Mbps should be possible, 802.11b has a maximum speed of 11Mbps. In practice to get this sort of speed from 802.11b requires you to be almost on top of the transmitter, 2Mbps is a more common speed.
To get the system going the North West Development Agency is giving a grant of £150,000 and users will pay around £15 per month. They hope to have some people online for Christmas if all the contractual paperwork is resolved in time.
This taste of the forbidden fruit shows what can be achieved and that RDA's are open to projects that are locally organised and run. If Eden does prove a success it may be the start of a blue print for other rural areas of the UK who have had sand kicked in their faces for a long time by the big bad business types.