The Cybermoor social enterprise began in 2001 with government funding to investigate how digital communications and computers might help boost rural economies.

Alston Moor, in Cumbria, was selected due to its remoteness. The first phase of funding provided over 600 computers for the residents of Alston Moor. The next step was to provide a broadband network that all of these computers could connect to. Alston Moor now has the highest penetration of broadband in any rural area in England.
Cybermoor is a founder member of the Community Broadband Network supporting the growth of broadband across the country.

The challenge

Alston Moor is both the highest market town in England as well as one of the most remote, so conventional high-speed broadband service has not been available.

In 2002 Cybermoor installed the UK’s first wireless broadband network in a rural community and Alston Moor quickly became recognised as the “Broadband Capital of Britain” with almost 40% of households having a broadband connection, at the then-fantastic speed of 1 Mbps.
As this original network began to age, equipment failures became increasingly common with the failures occurring in the exposed equipment.
Cybermoor needed to improve the speed, reliability and access to their broadband service in a cost effective way.

The solution

UK Broadband (UKB) supplied Proxim’s Tsunami™ MP.11 radios to distribute wireless connection throughout the town. As a result, the entire town is now blanketed with affordable wireless broadband access. And since the household computers were completely subsidised, residents are able to get connected to the Internet right away.

UKB worked closely with Cybermoor to define the detailed network plan ensuring that the optimal solution was developed to meet end-user requirements. During the installation process, UKB has provided comprehensive ongoing support and training to the Cybermoor team.
The upgrade will enable all members of the community in Alston Moor to receive wireless service of up to 12 Mbps. The new network uses the 5.8 GHz frequency, so interference will be reduced.

The benefits

While many people debate the legitimacy of the “digital divide” and whether having broadband connectivity truly makes any difference from an economic standpoint, Alston Moor is glaring proof of the opportunities broadband brings.

This was not a case of merely providing a town with broadband so that they could surf the Web – the broadband network in Alston Moor is changing lives through the services it has empowered and the opportunities it enables.
Now that nearly every home in the town has a computer, the town’s schools saw an improvement in educational attainment. Lessons can be downloaded at home, allowing parents to see what their children are learning and giving pupils the chance to learn at their own pace.
In a perfect example of how broadband connectivity can empower people to change their economic status, one resident moved his business from the South East of England to Alston Moor. Due to the extremely low cost of office space and connectivity, he was able to cost-effectively run a global business from a refurbished farm.
‘‘The town of Alston Moor is the perfect example of what people can achieve when they are enabled with the right technologies. People are connecting with others in the community, new businesses are coming into the town because of the broadband network, and new jobs have been created.’’ Daniel Heery, Project Manager, Cybermoor.

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