TECHNOLOGY COULD BOOST NEW LOCALISM Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2004 by penllyn
Local councils could use technology to build a new sense of local community by moving away from centralised web services towards smaller local online projects, according to a new report from independent think tank the New Local Government Network- http://www.nlgn.org.uk
"There is a danger that in the next 20 or 30 years, local communities will be so lacking in cohesion that the whole concept of local government gets called into question," says James Crabtree, one of the report's authors and a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Public Policy Research (http://www.ippr.org.uk). "By using technology to support communities, local government can encourage shared interests among people, find out more about their concerns and equip itself to serve them better."
You can get chapter 1 of the the report here-
Invisible Villages - Preface & Chapter 1 (PDF version)
This web site is another example of "social software", or internet-based collaborative tools, and is evolving to facilitate communication and the sharing of ideas among local people. Since 1999 we have been attempting to drive forward the use of technology at penllyn.com in this remote part of west Wales through addressing perceived weaknesses in provision by use of social economic models.
This site proved itself as a valuable tool in the hands of local people to secure broadband for the whole area and give all local citizens a vital economic tool a whole year ahead of most other U.K. rural areas, and all with little financial input, whilst harnessing local enthusiasm, hard work and shared interests with the use of new technology.
The report, 'Invisible villages: techno-localism and the enabling council', says that such an approach will help local authorities to resolve two apparently conflicting trends: on the one hand, the devolution of power from the centre to local institutions; and on the other, the declining cohesiveness of local communities, as they become increasingly transient and less tied to geographical location.
A new generation of "social software", or internet-based collaborative tools, is evolving to facilitate communication and the sharing of ideas among local people, and local government has a role to play in supporting this kind of online civic engagement, the report says.
It cites a number of online community projects, part or wholly funded by local authorities, which go some way towards fulfilling these objectives. These include webster.uk.net (http://www.webster.uk.net), a community web site for the inhabitants of Torfaen in South Wales, and Cumbria County Council Discussion Forum (http://cumbria.gov.uk/forum), which invites local people to address concerns to the council and form their own discussion groups. But such initiatives are currently in the minority, says the report, with few local authorities exploiting "the inherently social nature of the web".
The Torfaen portal, launched in 2003 was part of a £1.6 million project, the portal (web-site) itself costing £1million.
e-communities was supposed to deliver similar cut-down versions throughout Wales, but was axed at the eleventh hour, leaving a gaping hole in the assemblies Cymru ar-lein 'vision' and strategy for communities, and saving £25million in the WDA's budget. - visionary or myopic - you decide!
New ADSL limits take effect Posted Monday, September 6, 2004 by penllyn
Shortly before seven o'clock this morning, BT updated their online systems for the new ADSL line limits.
To check if you can now receive broadband, enter your telephone number into the BT.com checker. The checker at samknows.com has alread been updated to use the new limits information
Once again, it is advisable to leave any ADSL orders for at least a few hours (preferably a day or so). This will give BT Wholesale and its associated ISPs a chance to iron out any last minute issues.
It looks as though there is going to be deeper cuts in the war for bb customers this autumn. This is good news for customers with the emphasis on higher bandwidth and lower prices. This will be good news as the new bt line db rules also are about to come into play.
One big example is being shown by Wanadoo, who are getting rid of the baseline 512k offering and bringing in the 1mb connection as the new 'minimum' being offered.
Wanadoo, as part of its price changes earlier in the week has removed the 0.5Mbps from its product portfolio. Now they just sell a 1Mbps service, with three bandwidth allowance options.
Existing 0.5Mbps users will continue, but new customers will only have a 1Mbps option. If a customers line proves to be outside the new specifications for a 1Mbps line (due to change 6th September), then Wanadoo will provision a 0.5Mbps line. The number failing the new 60dB 1Mbps limit should be less than around 10% of lines.
This move to increase line rates while at the same time reducing prices makes some 0.25Mbps services offered by some providers look like antiques. There have also been calls from some service providers for BT Wholesale to widen its product portfolio and allow providers access to full-rate ADSL, i.e. up-to 8Mbps downstream and up-to 1Mbps upstream. The 2Mbps limit that has existed since 2000 on BT Wholesale products is starting to look a bit old.
Plusnet is also dropping the entry level price of its ADSL services with effect from yesterday.-
1Mbps from £14.99, and 2Mbps from £19.99!
Another inovative provider (and my personal favourite) e-mailed this to us today-
Eclipse Internet recently announced that it is making its high speed FLEX Broadband service available to even more users in remote parts of the country. Still the UK's only boostable speed service, FLEX Broadband costs from just £17.99 per month. This announcement comes as a result of news from BT on the success of their extended reach trials in Milton Keynes in which Eclipse has been involved.
Trials have shown that people living and working further than 5.5km from their local exchange can now receive ADSL broadband services when previously they could not. It is a major step forward in the delivery of broadband to the vast majority of the UK population.
Eclipse Internet is now accepting advance orders for its FLEX Broadband 512Kbps services based on the new limits set. Advance orders will be processed when the new range limits come into effect on 6th September. With a five day set up period this means that customers who have previously been too far away from their exchange to get broadband can start benefiting from FLEX as early as 11th September.
Until the end of August* Eclipse is also offering one month's free flexing for new FLEX Broadband users. Customers placing advance orders during this period will benefit from this offer from the date of their line activation.
This is a significant step in the quest for 'Broadband Britain' and will mean that many more people in your community will now be able to benefit from broadband. Please spread the good news to all those frustrated dial-up users who have been denied broadband access until now!
To order FLEX Broadband simply visit www.eclipsebroadband.com
* FLEX Orders placed by the 31st August 2004. Flexing may be limited to 512k depending on the distance from the Exchange.
Here more info. on the BT trial findings -
Questions and Answers from BT
Q. What exactly is BT announcing? Following trials in Milton Keynes, Dingwall and Fort William delivering ADSL services beyond the previous 60dB (6km) limit, BT is announcing it has done away with the distance limit for its 512kb/secADSL broadband services. This means more than a million additional homes and businesses connected to broadband enabled exchanges should be able to get ADSL service from September 6, 2004, raising the average percentage of households on an enabled exchange that can get broadband from approx 96% to 99.8%. BT is also increasing the range for 1Mb/sec premium ADSL services from 4km to approximately 6km (60dB) – making 1 mb/sec ADSL available to 96 per cent of homes and businesses connected to broadband exchanges.
Q. How is BT doing this? Following the trials we have a much better understanding of the performance of ADSL over longer lines. One of the key issues has been improved clarity on how much impact the internal wiring within customer premises has on performance of long lines. The trial found that for one in five lines over 60 dB [less than 1% off all lines] a visit by a BT engineer was required to get the service working. After an engineer visit just 5% of lines over 60dB were found not to work – this relates to less than 0.2% of all UK lines.
Q. What effect does the internal wiring in a house have on line loss? In the trials it was confirmed that: on long lines the internal wiring within a home or business property has a more significant effect on the overall line performance/line loss that previously understood. This is one of the significant breakthroughs of the trial. The installation of a broadband specific face plate on the main telephone socket and the isolation of internal wiring from the broadband connection has meant many of the trial customers were able to get broadband where it would previously not have been possible.
Q. Can I ask BT to do a line test on my phone line right now, so that I will know if I can get service? Please don’t – from September 6 we will take orders on any line for 500 k ADSL. The broadband availability number checkers will be updated on that date which will include an indication of likelihood of service being possible.
Q. What happens for trialists who want to migrate to full broadband service under the new rules? This will depend on your individual service provider but where SPs have used their normal terms and conditions for this trial we would expect a smooth transition. Where Service Providers offered the trial at a discounted price, some billing adjustments may be required.
Q. Why is this announcement being made when the trial is still under way? It is not due to end until September 30th? The evidence produced by the trials so far is decisive and has enabled us to move quickly on this. Our priority is to bring broadband to as may people as possible, as quickly as possible. Thanks to the trialists we've been able to do that.
Q. Will people beyond the previous limit of 60dB line loss get a poorer quality service? Where service is provided on some of the longest lines there might be some degradation of service resulting in loss of sync. Where this occurs the decision will between the customer and their service provider as to whether they decide to continue with the connection.
Q. What would an engineer do to try to get me broadband service if it doesn’t work when I try to install it? The Service Provider will send you your broadband installation kit after taking your order. Once you have received the kit, follow the self install instructions. The trial results showed that for one in five lines over 60dB an engineer was needed in order to get a broadband connection working. For approximately 5% of customers with lines over 60dB it did not prove possible to provide service even after an engineer visit. The engineer will do one or more of the following to try to get the line working: • Ensure PSTN line is fault free • Swap local loop pair for a shorter or better cable pair (if available) • Isolation of the customer’s phone extension wiring • Check micro-filter at PC and main socket installed correctly (and ask customer to confirm has installed micro-filter at other sockets with telephone equipment) • Check customer’s own equipment is not causing faults • Fitting a new front plate at the master socket
Q. How much will end users be charged for the engineering visit? BT won't be charging for the engineering visit. The engineer visit is part of the new standard repair process for long lines and will not be chargeable. If an engineering visit is required, BT will agree to waive the usual fee for this work, provided we are able to have some flexibility in the delivery date. However, if the customer’s internal wiring is found to be at fault, an offer will be made to the customer to correct this at a cost (as per current process and procedures).
Q. What happens if the engineer fails to get the broadband line working at all? If the BT engineer is unable to get the broadband line working at all the Service Provider will be informed in writing by BT Wholesale that despite all the BT engineers’ efforts it was not possible to get broadband to work and BT Wholesale will recommend ceasing/cancelling the order for broadband service.