Can’t Get Online Week – Day 5

Day 5 started at the Northern Farming Conference in Sedgefield, County Durham, where there were opportunities to interview a number of people, including the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Jim Paice MP

President of the CLA, William Worsley

and land agent, Alistair Cochrane

And then it was back in the car for the short journey to the Durham village of Byers Green, and one of the liveliest meetings of the week. This was an event organised by the good people of Digital Durham. I was told there had been a passionate public meeting the previous evening with 220 people packing out the Village Hall. A lot of thought had obviously gone into building the village’s case, and a good cross section of people were present at the meeting. They were certainly at the earliest stages of a campaign, but it was clear that there is a real momentum behind their determination to get decent broadband, and it is an issue which is bringing the community together. Byers Green is not far from the connurbations of Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor, but is still too far from the exchange for anyone to get more than 0.5Mbps.  I was sorry to leave Byers Green because the people’s passion was really infectious. But, before I did, I was able to capture some of the points people were making.

Cllr. Kevin Toms

Alan Brunskill

Tommy Thompson

David Cassie

Kevin Wood

Phil Jackman


Then it was back in the car, and off to Northumberland. Just north of the Angel of the North, the week’s journey reached the 1000 mile mark

It was 4pm when I arrived at the Goats on the Roof Cafe in Fontburn, Northumberland. This may have been the most remote location on the tour, and a good group was gathered, particularly focused around the people running the Fontburn Internet Project, which has connected up 11 households in the area to a wireless network. Unfortunately, there were no goats on the roof at the time, but an excellent discussion ensued about how the work on developing internet access can be a catalyst for community development.

One of the interesting aspects of the evening was what happened when I plugged in the WiBE (Wireless Broadband Extender) loaned to me by Richard Dix of Rural Broadband. No one can get a mobile phone signal at the cafe, but the WiBE was able to get a connection of more than 4Mbps, and we were able to watch BBC iPlayer and conduct a Skype video call with Richard.

Here are some of the stories from Fontburn.

Nina Remnant

Louise and Julie from Fontburn Internet Project

Fontburn was the furthest point north of the Can’t Get Online Week tour, which had started nearly on the south coast on Sunday. Now, the journey turned south for the final day in Yorkshire.

One thought on “Can’t Get Online Week – Day 5

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