TEM Property, part of the Tatton Estate, has successfully trialed its own superfast broadband using radio antennae to bounce signals around the estate, after balking at the prices quoted by conventional suppliers.
Edmond Kelleher, head of information technology at TEM Property and leading the new TEM Technology brand, said 15 properties will be connected with radio broadband by the end of March. TEM has applied for a license from Ofgem to have its own frequency, a prerequisite to be able to offer uncontested services to residents and businesses, for the east Cheshire estate. There are more than 500 properties on the estate, which stretches for several thousand acres.
Historically, rural landowners and their tenants have been put off by the cost of radio broadband. TEM was quoted between £4,000 and £5,000 per connection. The cost of doing it themselves came in at “hundreds of pounds”, Kelleher said.
The first connection was made at Ashley Hall before Christmas. The hall contains TV studios for outside broadcast and period location shoots.
A 1GB landline was installed within an unobstructed sight line of the hall and a radio broadband signal of 150MB beamed to the hall. The 150MB per second speed was achieved both uploading and downloading. This has enabled not only good internet access but services such as video conferencing, VOIP, or voice over internet, automated gates with number plate recognition and CCTV to be run which were all previously impossible. Many properties had no broadband at all, and could only access 4G at best.
The first wave of properties to be connected include the estate’s own holiday lets available on Airbnb. When TEM gains its license the plan is to roll the service out to residents and businesses, although the pricing has not been decided.
Kelleher, who worked on rural broadband via radio in Ireland for many years before joining TEM Property, said there are antennae coming on the market which are capable of sending 500 MB by radio waves which TEM plans to buy.
The biggest cost of installing their own radio broadband was the site survey. The antenna needs to be at a high point ideally, with a clear sight line to the building to be connected. Trees do not block the signal but the clearer the route the better. Poles can also be used to gain the height necessary if a building is not available within range. The range is up to 25 miles. TEM is erecting scaffolding towers at this year’s Cheshire Show to provide free broadband to visitors.