Lifeboat crew digs its own fibre broadband

Lifeboat crew digs its own fibre broadband

Summary: The RNLI lifeboat crew stationed at Yorkshire's Spurn Point has installed its own fibre cabling after being stuck on dial-up speeds


 |  Image 1 of 4

  • Thumbnail 1
  • Thumbnail 2
  • Thumbnail 3
  • Thumbnail 4
  • Last Friday, the lifeboat crew at Spurn Point, on the tip of the Humber estuary's north bank, got started on installing their own next-generation broadband cable.

    The seven-strong Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew and their families — Spurn Point is a full-time station — had been stuck on dial-up-quality radio connectivity, getting download speeds of just 44-150Kbps, superintendent coxswain Dave Steenvoorden told ZDNet UK on Tuesday, adding that the station was not even within range of 3G services.

    "Without getting too political, we didn't get any help from BT," Steenvoorden said. "They were sending us all the advertising through the post for fast broadband, and each time we approached them they said we were not compatible, and they could only offer a maximum of 250Kbps. We're an absolute notspot."

    Help came from Fibrestream, the company that supplies the RNLI station with its radio-based broadband. The firm, which has handled several community broadband projects, got together with its suppliers and provided the necessary materials for free, while the crew members and other locals provided the labour for digging the trenches.

  • "We're pretty resourceful people," Steenvoorden said. "The technical people were there on the day — they said we needed a feed to each house, and we just set to and did it."

    Spurn Point is a nature reserve, Steenvoorden explained, so all the new cabling had to be run underneath existing pathways with minimum disturbance.

    "We did it last Friday — we started at 9am and we had all the cabling in by 8.30 at night," he said. "It was a total distance of approximately 300m, linking our seven houses and the crew training facility together. In the next week or two, we've got to run up through some ducting up to a control tower that's 400m away."

    The fibre-based connectivity should go live within the next month — the fibre itself needs to be blown through the cables in the next couple of weeks, after which the switching equipment will be installed.

    Spurn Point is getting fibre-optic connections to a radio station, with a microwave link to the mainland, Steenvoorden said.

Topics: Broadband, Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Fantastic

    Bloody brilliant :D fantastic way to tackling broadband issues that involve small rural community's it just goes to show that the likes of big corporate companies operate on a fad basis, and they should hang there heads in shame!

    I hope that all the companies involved documented the way on how they where able to do this, as so to lay precedence on a how to basis for others to follow the fine example put into practice here.

  • BT

    I think BT should get out of the telecoms market. The advertising hype does not seem to meet the reality.

    Bills go up, service quality reduces. Users are now forced to fund the infrastructure through an additional phone bill tax. Next BT will be expecting us to pay more for the improved service which our taxes provide!
  • Typical BT

    I get the same. BT are a load of rubbish when it comes to installing broadband outside their catchment area. I live 1 mile from the local exchange and still cannot get more than 1.2 MB broadband. I have tried switching providers who promise the earth and still get the same crappy download speed, and I live 3 miles from the center of Manchester!
  • Its amazing...

    They never run out of excuses for providing poor services.
  • British Telec***

    I'd love to hear BT's response to this story.
    The Blitterbug
  • Why?

    Why did they want/need broadband?
  • They need information - Fast

    In an emergencey, quick access to detailed maps, weather conditions, other emergenty services etc. can quite easily literally save lives.

    Such access can also drive down admin costs of a grossly undefunded organisation.

    However, it doesn't help support bankers pensions so I guess it's not very important.