Jenkins-Of-Ewelme Web Site

3G Wireless Broadband in Ewelme (and other rural areas).

This page is intended as a means to share experiences of using fixed 3G - Mobile Broadband in  Ewelme. (last update: 18/4/14).

In July 2013 Three  launched Ultrafast 3.9G wireless broadband, and download tests during quiet usage periods were measured in Ewelme (and other rural villages in Oxfordshire) at speeds of up to 21 Mbps!

Here's an up-to-date table of the measured bandwidth that has been seen here during the week using the latest window mounted hardware. These long term full function download and upload speeds can be compared with an average of less than 1 Mbps down and around 0.3 Mbps up for the original telephone line speeds in the village. N.B. As of 18th December 2013, high speed fibre optic broadband has been made available from the central cabinet in Ewelme (as has RAF Benson and Letchlade!). See the page comparing Fibre and 4G based broadband

Try this basic in-page configured speed tester. If the instant speed needle never flicks above 1.5Mb during the test, and that the final average Download Speed for this particular transfer of data is always below 1Mb, then the following page will hopefully be of some help. There are opportunities to try more dedicated speed testers later on in this and other associated pages, but you might take some encouragement that perfectly decent broadband is available in Ewelme (and many other rural areas in Oxfordshire!) by having a look at a Three year log of speed tests  (as a 1.35 MB pdf document), taken from this location of the village, to see just how things have improved over that period, while BT broadband hasn't changed at all since 2007! (until now!)

This captured example from this tester also shows the kind of speeds that can be expected in this village, i.e. up to 10x copper based landline.

Since it was originally published a few years ago, to convey that there was a better/faster way to get broadband in Ewelme than landline broadband via BT, there have been quite a few amendments made to the contents, to reflect the availability of newer hardware and services, and the rapid improvements made to coverage in terms of speed and signal strength in this area. If you have visited this page before, you may be surprised at the changes that have been made quite recently. If you are a new visitor looking for a way to get either an improved or even first  broadband connection at home, you might be encouraged to know that mobile (or wireless) broadband is just a 'dongle dangle' away! Should you not feel very confident about understanding some of the words and terms used, it might be a good idea to visit The Beginner's Guide to Broadband page first and come back here later. You might also like to visit the  4G v Fibre page, which discusses how to test and compare the differences between land based fibre optic broadband (when it eventually arrives!) and the continually evolving wireless based mobile broadband.

Brief History
Although the additional 'high quality' cable installation between Wallingford exchange and Ewelme in 2007 provided the opportunity for some 50 extra households to get hold of a basic broadband connection for the first time, it still left a number of residents without the ability to connect to the Internet at all. The Wi-Fi based 'Ewelme Community Wireless Network' initially provided a number of households (13 at one time or another) with a sub 1 Mbs (Megabits per second) connection, who would otherwise not have been able to get onto the Internet other than by using a 56 Kbs (Kilobits per second) dial-up modem (see Ewelme Wireless Network). However, it was necessary for these users  to be located within 'line-of-sight' of various interconnected 'nodes' or Access Points positioned in various places within the village (Church and private dwellings), and this community service could not therefore  be utilized by very many.

Evolving Technology
Whilst some villagers are perhaps not interested in using computers at all, or perfectly happy to just use 'dial up' facilities, there are still a number who are frustrated by the fact that there is now little chance that extra wire pairs will be made available here, and that an alternative fibre optic based cable is unlikely to reach us until next year. However, during the last few years, a new wireless technology has gradually become more widely available to the cellular mobile telephone community. The use of a mobile phone to connect to the Internet has been available for some time now, enabling texts and  emails to be sent, even with photo attachments, and somewhat restrictively, to browse the Web. For the more computer savvy, one could also attach (tether) one of the 'smarter' mobile phones to the PC and use it as a PC modem.  This initial technology (technically known as GPRS) was still quite slow (about dial-up modem speeds) , and although no charge is made for the time connected, the amount of data transferred is charged for. This has been called 2nd Generation or 2G technology, but now 3G or 3rd Generation (technically known as UMTS - Universal Mobile Telephone System) has become more widespread. Due to the significant increase in data packet transfer (speed) when using 3G, it is also being marketed as 'Mobile Broadband' by the mobile phone providers. This is a fair description, since in well serviced areas also able to receive enhanced 3G, (technically known as HSPA+),  the speed can exceed what any of us can receive within Ewelme via landline. Indeed, tests show that within the village boundaries 3G can actually provide a data rate which  regularly exceeds 2 Mbs and until recently using the latest 'dongle'/modems, has been measured at over 10 Mbs! During the Summer of  2013, Three introduced its 'Ultrafast' network (DC-HSDPA or 3.9G) as a precursor to 4G. Although this requires an upgrade to hardware, it has been measured up to 21 Mbs during off peak periods. However, it is important to understand that if the received 3G wireless signal is weakened due to external walls or external terrain or trees then speed performance will be reduced. In most cases however, some careful placement of the receiver on a window facing the 3G wireless mast, will ensure a perfectly adequate and full function broadband service to be enjoyed.

3logo  vodafonelogoT mobile logoorangelogo  virginlogo   o2logoClick the icons to see suppliers' products.

Three (3), are the mobile broadband (and mobile phone) company who have provided 3G network coverage in this area for the longest period, although quite recently Vodafone 3G signals can also be received here. However Three also offer receivers (dongles) and Wi-Fi routers that can operate on their evolving 21 Mbs network.

How does Broadband by wireless get here?

3G Mast Location
The map below represents an interpretation of  information gathered regarding the physical location of broadband wireless masts owned by 'Three'  and 'Vodafone' in this area. After some persuasive discussion with support engineers from Three in both India and Scotland, it has been recognised  that this area has been one of the first country wide to be permanently 'upgraded' to a HSPA+ 3.5G network locally, requiring modems capable of operating at 21.6 Mbs for best results. From this map it should be able to be judged which side of a house is best for modem window placement to receive the strongest 3G signal!

You can find your own wireless broadband 3G (UMTS type) mast locations and owners by visiting Sitefinder

3G Broadband Coverage

Each provider tends to define coverage in slightly different ways. The first diagram by Three, basically shows that 3G can be received by ALL of Ewelme for outside (or window mounted) devices, whereas the second diagram by Vodafone, shows signal strength as a four level analysis, where the main Village seems to have been given a weak  measurement. On the other hand, Vodafone seems to favour certain parts of the area that would be shown on the Three map as deep purple! It should be noted that these maps are basically theoretical, calculated using the position and propagated direction and power of the transmitter, together with the terrain of the landscape. Hence the valley of The Street in Ewelme being favoured by Three rather than Vodafone. What the diagrams can't show is the expected speed of broadband for each pixelated area shown. However, the Three network has a 21.6 Mbs capability, whereas, at the time of writing, Vodafone is only selling product to work up to 7.2 Mbs.

You can compare/update the coverage maps of all the mobile broadband providers using your post code, by visiting this web page.

Signing Up and Costs for 3G
So, what are the pros and cons of 3G in Ewelme? If you cannot obtain, or get slow broadband using a landline, there is little to lose and the possibility to gain a significant advantage over current landline broadband users, by trying 3G. It should be remembered that  the providers ('3', Vodafone, EE (Orange/ T-Mobile), O2,etc.) have all paid the government £BILLIONS£ to get a licence to use the microwave frequencies used by 3G, and have recently gone through the same process again for 4G (fourth generation), using the lower more penetrating frequencies left from the now defunct analogue TV channels. SEE 4G v Fibre page. So, they are obviously keen to recover this vast investment by whatever means they can. The way this is done is to sell you a certain amount of data usage per month, which cannot be carried over. This is unlike a Pay As You Go (PAYG) arrangement for a mobile phone, where you top up when you have run out of phone calls or messages. So, unless you are confident of your local performance in terms of signal strength and speed from a particular provider, it might be more sensible to initially consider just buying the latest 3G 'dongle' or MiFi wireless 'router' on line or from your local high street shop, and then paying a  monthly top-up fee, which will entitle you to a certain amount of data transfer to be used within a set period e.g. £8 for 1GB/month or £16 for 5GB/month. Obviously, if/when you commit to a contract period, you will get more megabytes for your buck! e.g. between £17 and £21/ month for 15GB on 24 month contract depending on the included hardware See Broadband-Expert. It is also possible to purchase a dongle or the more versatile 3G Wi-Fi  router (see later) and getting it 'unlocked' (see link at end), so that short term 3G SIM cards can be used to try out various local providers, or for reliable use with alternative local providers when travelling on holiday or abroad.

 Wireless Broadband in Ewelme
As with all wireless technologies, the most important parameter for successful operation is about obtaining the best possible signal strength, which is why an outside digital TV aerial tends to provide a better performance than an indoor one. To enable high speed data transfer for multiple users, the transmission frequency needs to be around the microwave part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Wi-Fi uses a higher frequency than 3G (only just), but all the same, the ideal requirement is line-of-sight between transmitter and receiver. However, cellular telephone systems rely on more than one transmitter providing alternative communications paths so that one can roam about, and depending on the transmitter power used, can produce signal 'reflections' and 'scatter', enabling signals to penetrate into enclosed buildings in built up areas. In a rural area like ours, signals get attenuated over distance, so perhaps we can't expect the same speeds as obtained in cities unless transmitters are nearby. Investigations have shown that for Three, the nearest masts are at Hale Farm in Benson and the original source from the hills near Wittenham Clumps. For Vodafone the nearest 3G transmitter is situated in Preston Crowmarsh, on the S.W. corner of RAF Benson airfield. It will be realised therefore, that not all telephone masts you see transmit 3G signals, and those that do are owned by specific companies  (See Sitefinder   

Setting Up Your System
Below shows a proven method for ensuring that the strongest signal is obtained within a house, by utilizing a couple of highly technical pieces of equipment! However, it should be noted that a 'dongle' can only be used by one person on one computer at a time.  But you can also use a similar method with the much more versatile 'MiFi' wireless module, so that more than one Wi-Fi enabled device  can be using the internet at the same time (see later). It is VERY important, especially if you live in a location with 'outdoor' signal strength (most of Ewelme), to mount the receiver actually on the glass of a window which is facing the direction of the 3G mast. Even if your location is within an 'indoor' strength area, using the same method will ensure the best possible reception from your local mast. Other techniques that have been used include double sided sucker soap holders and even Blu Tack.

The dongle and MiFi in-built utility program provides an indication of signal strength on your PC or more usefully, on a mobile device, for the selected mounted position of the device. The display design and layout will vary depending on which receiver type you are  using, but is intended to provide you with operational information about your connection to the internet via 3G.

Apart from ensuring that the 3G signal available from your nearest mast is as good as it can be at your location, another method of determining the efficacy of your internet connection is by doing a speed test. There are many test utilities available, where the basic idea is that a file of a  certain known size is downloaded from a server (a dedicated remote computer), and the time taken for this 'download' to occur is measured. Then, the file is sent back or 'uploaded' to the server. The resultant times are then displayed. the download speed is the most important, but the higher the upload speed the better to provide good performance for a particular activity. One example of a broadband speed tester can be found at and will show download and upload speeds, as well as keeping an historical log and the ability to show results in a graphical form. This one also allows you to chose the location of the test server either close by or anywhere in the world, and provides some excellent and useful statistics that can be shared and compared.

Another one favoured by '3', can be found at . This one can provide an average speed calculation when used over a long period, and has been used to provide the 3 year comparative log (see link in introduction).

Is an aerial necessary? NEW
Well, No, if you get a consistent 4-5 signal bars but possibly Yes, if you struggle to get 2-3 bars at best at your location! The whole concept of 3G/4G technology is that is has been designed to be portable, hence the generic name ‘mobile broadband’. So like a mobile phone, dedicated 3G and 4G devices have internal aerials built in to cope with most prevailing signal strength conditions. A user in an area deemed having ‘indoor’ strength 3G signals (see above) shouldn’t have any problems with setting up a convenient fixed wireless broadband facility within the house. But if you live in a ‘outdoor’ strength area, as with most of Ewelme, then much more careful preparation in terms of fixing the best position for good reception has to be considered. This can only really be established by experiment, by performing a speed test during off peak periods to see firstly whether the signal strength indicator provided is high (4-5 bars) , but also whether a speed test results in anything like expectations for the highest download protocol for your device (e.g. up to 10 Mbs for a HSPA+ device such as an E5331 or E586, or up to 20 Mbs for a DC-HSDPA device such as a E5756). In any event, the best place for the device without an additional external aerial would be on (not just near) a window facing the direction of the local mast. However, one has to consider the difference between receiving a standard TV signal, where an indoor or loft aerial may suffice to get satisfactory reception (TVs don’t have inbuilt aerials), and that of receiving High Definition TV, where a directional roof mounted TV aerial is essential. On the other hand, you have to make a subjective assessment as to whether the performance of your internet usage meets your requirements of just emailing or casual browsing, or the need to regularly watch HDTV, Skype or download large amounts of data (2 – 4 Mbs allows most things to be enjoyed).

So, assuming that your receiving dongle or 3G wireless router contains a SIM card supplied by a provider transmitting 3G/4G in the area (e.g. Three, Vodafone but NOT O2), and the tests suggested above do not meet expectations (consistent 2-4 bars), then you are perhaps in the unfortunate position of needing specialist help, as you would with having a TV aerial installed. In this situation, you have to make sure your receiving device has provision for having an external aerial attached. Such requirements are certainly more unusual than with the need for a TV aerial but the principle is the same, which will need to be discussed with an installer. Perhaps a simple dipole aerial attached to the side of your house facing the mast not having an appropriate window. Maybe a chimney mounted omni-directional  aerial will be the answer to overcome blocking walls or trees, but a worst case scenario would be a directional aerial (Yagi - looking a bit like a TV aerial) would be the answer if you are a long distance from the mast. Refer to SOLWISE to see a range of 3G/4G aerials and more information, or seek professional advice.

One very useful utility that can be tried to establish whether there may be problems with reception at your location, can be used on-line from your browser. Here, by putting in your post code and marking the position of your local mast (see above) and then marking your own location, you will not only be shown the best side of your house to hang your window mounted receiver, but also if there is any particular problem with natural terrain. By zooming fully down to your location, you will also be able to establish whether there are any houses or trees that might cause problems to justify the installation of an external aerial. You can see that at this location, I do have houses in the way, but due to our actual higher elevation and the scattering/reflecting nature of microwave wireless signals, we do NOT require an aerial here! J. You could also see whether by using a different providers' 3G mast position, may give you a better option of receiving good reception (e.g. Vodafone instead of Three). If with either, you see a straight line without significant 'bumps' or local known buildings/trees in the way, it's more than likely that you won't need an aerial. On the other hand, investing in an aerial will always guarantee that you receive the best signal strength you can at your location.

By hovering your mouse over the profile, you will be able to establish whether there is a particular point blocking your line-of-sight, or whether you have a clear 'view'. It is not absolutely essential to have nothing in the way, since reflections from objects such as buildings and even clouds, can still provide sufficient signal strength to give adequate signal strength.

Wi-Fi The Final Link NEW

The MOST important aspect for the successful use of wireless broadband is to ensure that you obtain the strongest 3G/4G signal possible at your location. Unless you are a single dongle user, or plug your MiFi router directly into your PC or other device via a USB extension cable, there is still one more important step to consider. This is to make another wireless connection between your router and the Wi-Fi enabled devices that are to use the Internet, such as PCs or Macs, iPads or tablets, smart phones or TVs. Of course this also applies if your primary connection to the Internet is via landline, with say a BT Home Hub as Wi-Fi router. As with an external wireless signal from a local 3G/4G mast, Wi-Fi  acts just like invisible LIGHT to/from the router. In other words, it won't travel through brick walls or go around corners. However, it will possibly travel in a weakened state through non-metalized plasterboard, and like a lamp in another room, it will reflect off walls and through open doors (or closed glass ones!) to reach your eyes. The effect of not making a good Wi-Fi connection between router and device, is that it just slows down those hard earned potentially fast download speeds gathered from the external airwaves. So, if you just can't site your devices in the near vicinity of the router to make your Wi-Fi icon also show 5 bars, what can you do?



Well, if you can imagine that your router is a reading lamp, while you are in the same room you are likely to be able to read perfectly in all positions (full data speed). If you go into the next unlit room with the door open, you may well still be able to read by the defuse reflected light from walls and ceilings, but might strain your eyes a bit (slower data speed). If you shut the door, it is unlikely that much light will pass through except via cracks and under the door. You might just still be able to read something (slow data speed with errors). Now, if you were able to switch on another light in the second room from the on/off switch of the light in the first, you could 'repeat' the ability to carry on reading in the next room. Such an ability also applies to Wi-Fi, by means of various techniques.


1. Extend the wireless receiving ability of your PC or laptop by attaching a Wi-Fi dongle at the end of a 5 metre USB extension lead, or longer with an amplified type. This will only satisfy one device.


2. Purchase a Wi-Fi Repeater. This device basically does what its name implies, and receives the original Wi-Fi signal at a weakening signal strength (say at that imaginary door between two rooms), and repeats download and upload data. Using the reading lamp analogy, this provides another lamp in the second room, but a bit dimmer, since the whole process can slow the speed by as much as half.



3. If your router has an Ethernet port, you can install physical network wiring to transport received data to any location within the house. An easier way is to use a kit of units to transfer the data from the router to another location via the domestic mains wiring. The unit at the far end of this route will convert the method of data transport to Wi-Fi, for use by enabled devices. There will also be some speed degradation since this is also a form of repeater. Apart from landline broadband providers, wireless broadband providers don't normally offer Ethernet routers, but these are available as unlocked types on the open market, e.g. Huawei E5151, but this isn't an ultrafast type!


Again,SOLWISE provide a variety of internal repeaters and network hubs to enhance your Wi-Fi capabilities.


What else can affect speed/performance? (Also applies to fibre)

Wi-Fi uses 13 different but overlapping channels (frequencies). Under normal circumstances, the controlling router will chose the best local free channel  to communicate with connected devices. However, sometimes other routers in the area may be using the same or close channel, which could affect the speed. A channel can be manually changed within router configuration, but often a power down/up reboot will often cure that problem. An android utility app can be used to check which routers are using what channels and at what strength. Wi-Fi  Analyzer can be downloaded for free to your Android phone or tablet using Google Play. There are similar apps for Windows or iPads and iPhone, and can prove extremely useful when installed on a portable device to plot your internal 'not spots' and whether something close by may be interfering with your own Wi-Fi signal.



It is also well known that there is a tendency for more people to use both  landline and wireless broadband during the evenings. The majority of providers of both flavours will perform some kind of 'traffic shaping' to ensure that each user gets at least a minimum bandwidth in order to use most low speed services. Three are happy to explain how they deal with such high traffic situations, which they call Traffic Sense.


The more devices using the router at the same time (contention), the slower each will be able to operate.


An already slow or old device or PC will slow its ability to react swiftly during a speed test or other operation.

Looking 'inside' your MiFi
Your PC or MAC browser can provide a display of the real time performance of your  local wireless MiFi router. If you've got one, this is the local web address: This gives an idea of signal strength, network speed (3G or HSPA+ or 3.9G), battery charge etc. You can also do various router configuration functions if you are that way inclined, just like any other serious router on the market. If the default User name is 'admin', so is the password.

This screen capture shows some of the various data that can be shown from within the MiFi. Here, it can be seen that four devices are using the router to gain access to the Internet. It should be noted that some MiFi's will only accept up to 5 devices at a time to be logged onto the unit. If attempts are made to connect further devices, the connection will be inhibited. The best way to overcome such a situation is to power off/on reboot the router and switch off devices not required for the time being. Later Mi-Fi version allow up to ten devices to be simultaneously connected. However, be warned that the more devices connected will tend to reduce the speed capability of them all!

Various Methods Being Used for MiFi Window Mounting
Click on the thumbnails for greater detail


"I Spy Broadband Dongles" gives 10 points for spotting each of these. If you find any more, send for inclusion!

Tools and Bandwidth
Although the broadband speed tests described above is a jolly good way of giving an idea of how fast your broadband connection is  operating at a particular point in time using a particular server, it does only operate over a few seconds and only shows communication between two fixed sites on the Internet. For those a little more interested in the technicalities of broadband in general and wireless broadband in particular, may be interested to try a powerful tool provided by 'thinkbroadband' (see link at end of page). This is called tbbMeter, and provides the means, especially if set up to be 'always in front', to show a real time monitor of the amount and speed of data being uploaded and downloaded from the Internet.


The display above can be arranged to be shown in any position and size on the screen. It will indicate the instant speeds of download and upload data in the two right hand columns. The rest of the timebase graph provides a log of the speed of communication and an accumulating total of the amount of data used. As a matter of interest regarding the required bandwidth required to, for example, watch a missed TV program (if you can afford the amount within your monthly data allocation!), the left-hand quarter of the graph shows a sample of a BBC iplayer programme, while the rest is showing the bandwidth required to listen to an Internet radio programme. Both programmes ran uninterrupted without breaks, and it can be seen that the maximum bandwidth availability at that time was around 1.5 Mbs, which is higher than landline broadband, but well within the measured bandwidth accessibility of mobile broadband. Obviously, for the download of large program or update files, the higher the bandwidth available the better, but this tool will indicate both good and bad performance for analysis.

Here we have another example on a day when the bandwidth availability was in the region of 4.5 Mbs. The first batch of data shows a short period of watching a High Definition quality programme from the BBC iPlayer. Each download burst is buffered (stored)  while being watched, then a request is sent for more. The next thinner bursts are when watching a standard definition programme, where less data is required and not so often. The final section shows the file download of a programme for later watching, and shows here that it takes up nearly all the available bandwidth. As more users join the cellular network, the bandwidth will reduce and it will take longer to download the same file.

Similar 'apps' are available for other platforms such as Android, e.g. 'Network Monitor' Mini' , which provides an instantiations numerical real time up/down speed in the corner of the screen. 

Local Surveys
In earlier versions of this article, results of some speed test surveys conducted around the village were recorded during the Summer of 2009 and early part of 2010.These were intended to show (and did!) that most of the village was capable of obtaining broadband using 3G technology. Considering that the better landline broadband connections were only capable of around 1Mbs, if that, it was very encouraging to find that some tests showed 3G could reach internet speeds of up to 2.9 Mbs!  However, after a couple more surveys during recent weeks using two newer and improved versions of dongle, has shown this capability has increased to up to 5.4 Mbs. Rather than continuing to include the older results, it is thought it would be less confusing  to now just show the latest results. These tests were performed from within a roaming car using an E122 dongle dangling  inside the windscreen, (I think I feel a song coming on...We do dongle com...♫  ahem) and attached via a USB extension lead to a netbook running  the speed tester, while monitoring signal strength using the '3Connect' utility from '3' (see above). The results show the best of  three cycles of download and upload of a 1 MB file at each of the brief stopping points stated.  Most locations within the 'variable' area shown on the above map have been covered, and show every reason to be optimistic about the possibilities of receiving 3G inside a house. Remember that landline broadband download speeds in Ewelme, for the most part, have continued to vary from about 0.5 Mbs (500 kbits/sec) to around 1 Mbs (1000 kbits/sec) since 2007.    

Note Well! This survey was performed 3 years ago, and an increasing number of residents in this village have been enjoying the evolving and improved performance since then (now up to  21 Mbs).  

In previous surveys, the upload speed was always throttled to around the 300 Kbs mark when using 3.6 Mbs modems, which is about the same as current landline upload speeds. It can be seen here that the upload speeds using a 7.2 Mbs modem are 4 to 5 times faster than before. The nature of Internet data packet transfer is that received packets have to be acknowledged or requested again, so faster upload speeds also help to speed up the overall effect of the experience. You can also see a 2.5 year log for fixed wireless broadband performance located at OX10 6LA, latterly using the latest HSPDA+ 21Mbps router, to show the gradual improvement in speed and consistency over that period.

N.B. It is important to realise that communication by wireless or any other medium for that matter, is only as fast as the weakest link. So, if your PC is one which only has a slow microprocessor or is busy with other activities on-line or internally, this can affect (slow) the measurement being made. Another important factor is the operational presence of security software such as a virus checker, which will tend to slow down the speed of communication. To ensure that your speed 'potential' can be measured, it may be necessary to switch this off during such tests or during important download activities.  

3G Email
For those who would undoubtedly be using email when connected to the Internet, there are two ways that this can be done. If an account is held with one of the 'free' providers, such as 'hotmail', 'freeserve', 'gmail', etc., then the procedure is that your email is read or compiled by logging onto a remote site. A similar procedure is used if using an employer's email server via a 'VPN'.  In both these cases, by using 3G broadband, this procedure would not change. However, If you have an email 'client' installed on your PC, such as Outlook or Outlook Express for example, and are paying an ISP for an email service, then as far as receiving emails via the ISP server is concerned, nothing will change, but for sending out emails, it is necessary to use the 3G mail server instead of the ISP server. Since '3'  is likely to be the better 3G provider in this area for the time being, you will need to change your SMTP outgoing mail setting in Outlook or similar client to ''

Do you live in the Hills?
Isn't technology wonderful, in that it never stops evolving? During the transition period between moving from sharing ADSL connections across the Ewelme Wireless Network, towards residents starting to use 3G, there were some locations in the village area that couldn't always get a robust signal to avoid drop outs or the full speeds offered by the network  at that time. In some cases consideration had to be given to using specialised dongle/routers that could be enhanced with internal or external aerials.  Due to the increasing strength of 3G signals now, and the addition of a closer mast since those early days (3 years ago), it is not often required to take any such measures anymore. However, although many parts of Oxfordshire are now covered by 3G from a variety of providers, it is known that some other rural pockets of the county could still be within a 'not spot' or 'weak spot'. There are a couple of companies  who provide equipment and aerials for 3G enhancement for such difficult circumstances. One is Solwise and the other is Panorama Antennas. There is a sensitive piece of kit  launched in 2011, which although a bit expensive right now, and probably would not normally be required in Ewelme, does enable people many miles away from a mast or in a very difficult to receive area, to get wireless broadband. Its being called  WiBE by Deltenna, and you can see it's spec at  (Thanks to Andy Cheung from rural Cambridgeshire for this). Quite a lot about dongle types has been wrapped into an interesting TV clip from the technology programme 'Click', including this new device, and is well worth a look.


Three announces new HSPA+ dongle (2011!)
HSPA+ is the next step up in the evolution from 3G to 4G network speeds, providing wireless broadband speeds of up to 21 Mbs. It has been available from Three since the 7th April 2011. This is an example of the continuing evolution of 3G technology where HSPA+ provides a step up from the previous 7 Mbs network towards the forthcoming 4G coverage. These links provide a taste of announcements for this technology enhancement at the time, but which has now been the standard network offering in Ewelme for some time, providing measured speeds up to 10 Mbps: Latest Dongle Technology Comes to Three  and Three Promises Network Upgrades - 2011 and Three Quietly Rolling Out HSPA




The Campaigns, the Publicity and the Politics

Is Fibre Optic Broadband really coming?
Well, inevitably surely. But if your interest has taken you thus far, this section includes aspects of some of the newsworthy and political activities regarding the efforts to highlight and overcome the lack of landline broadband availability in Oxfordshire's rural areas, including Ewelme. These newspaper clips, on-line articles, radio interviews and TV programmes hopefully convey quite well the frustration and missed  timescales people have been expecting for obtaining any kind of landline broadband service exceeding a slow 'up to' 1 Mbs service or anything better than 'dial up'. However, what is also included  are some results of  attempts to generally convey to the residents of Ewelme in particular, and a number of similar rural villages, that a perfectly adequate broadband service has already been available locally by wireless for some time, if only a few simple steps are taken to install it. Unfortunately, to some, such attempts to convey information about available alternatives have possibly been  regarded as an encumbrance to the success and associated kudos in actually achieving the installation of fibre optic broadband in Ewelme. This has tended to leave some residents confused with a continuing see-saw belief that super-fast broadband is or is not just around the corner. 

The Henley Standard Link
In the 5th November 2010 issue of the Henley Standard, a feature article was published conveying the continuing frustration of many deprived rural households throughout South Oxfordshire in attaining a useable Broadband connection, and where the reporter Nigel Wigmore, was investigating whether the recommendations of the SODC, which had been sent to parish councils to advise parishioners to 'vote' for a campaign called 'BT Infinity', was being promulgated, or perhaps not even known about. However, the piece also conveyed that whilst people would possibly have  to wait up to 5 years for fibre-optic based high speed broadband to reach their village, there is a perfectly usable 'fast enough' and better than ADSL alternative for many rural households within the District right now, as long as they were also told about this! To see the article on-line, click on this Link to The Henley Standard .

The Oxford Times Link
Possibly due to the existence of this web page, Rhianne Pope, a reporter preparing an article about Cowley being due to get super fast broadband by the end of the year, requested an opinion about this news. Apart from indicating that the was hardly a 'rural' issue, it was commented that many households within rural areas that were complaining about a lack of any kind of broadband or that it was very slow, could get a perfectly usable mobile or wireless broadband service if they took the trouble to take a few simple steps, rather than just getting increasingly frustrated waiting for a service to be provided for them. I'm not sure that the article actually got this across in a way that would encourage anyone to investigate further!  Link to Oxford Times

One afternoon in February 2011, I was telephoned by Edward Baron, a reporter from the BBC, who informed me that he was preparing a TV news item about the lack of broadband in rural areas. He had heard that I had been trying to promote the use of Mobile Broadband in this rural village and  had actually seen this web site! He said he would like to do a video interview from my home, from where I had been running an on-line business for many years. How could I refuse the chance of fame at last?  The following evening the news item was broadcast, but concentrated solely on how people and businesses were suffering without broadband and asking why BT were still to take until 2015 to get fibre based broadband to only two thirds of the country. Also, what the Oxfordshire County Council were doing to try to reduce such a timescale, by using government money to stimulate private investment to improve the broadband infrastructure, including wireless!  With limited time, it is now obvious that the aspects of current availability of 'fast enough' wireless broadband  being available to rural areas right now, would not have fitted the rather gloomy theme depicted by 'cross' villagers after all.  A reduced quality recording of the programme can be watched by clicking the link below. I did ask permission to show this, and recognise the copyright of the BBC.

South Today Programme  Putting Ewelme on the map? This video has been reduced to a minimum (1 MB) to allow those with a very slow connection to watch it! You need something like the 'Windows Media Player' or 'Real Player' enabled to play '.wmv' files, but I'll send you a full AVI file on DVD if you want one?

By the way, Stoke Row has about the same sort of 3G coverage as Ewelme!

Here is a link to 'Broadband Delivery UK'  to which Councillor David Robertson was referring, and here is a link to the official Oxfordshire County Council web site about the initiative discussed.

Now, I did manage to record and edit an audio version of the actual question/answer of my interview while it was being filmed. Since a great deal of this would have been edited out to produce just a few seconds about the current alternatives to a lack of cable or slow landline, you might wish to hear this hopefully 'yes we can'  view, as a possible short or long term solution to the problems and frustrations conveyed on TV?

Interview for BBC South Today




Perhaps as a consolation for not being included in the item on TV, another phone call was received that same afternoon. This time it was from BBC Radio Berkshire, asking whether I would be available for interview at 5:15 that evening about the lack of broadband in rural villages. Expecting someone to visit again, I said I would be delighted as long as it didn't interfere with me watching South Today on TV. "No no", came the reply. This would be a live interview by telephone!! At 5:15 the telephone rang, and a guy said "thanks for taking part", and then just switched me over to listening to the live programme. After a couple of minutes Rory Macalister announced he was about to talk to me. I hadn't a clue what was about to happen as no-one had briefed me. I also had no idea that whatever I was going to say (and I didn't' know that either), some 'expert' was going to follow me to make comments on what had previously been conveyed. Luckily, this chap initially agreed with what I had said, but I was then appalled by what he explained later about the dangers of  grossly overspending your data allowance (the SIM card provided with a dongle doesn't allow this to happen anyway). Even worse, was a warning about using long periods of mobile broadband for internet communication, due to the dangers of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone equipment, especially for young children with thinner sculls!! This guy had obviously not grasped the idea that window based dongles placed nowhere near a human head were no more dangerous than sitting in a government building offering a WiFi connection to a local Netbook or iPAD. I was not given an opportunity to reply to these statements, but hopefully this erroneous information will not discourage a frustrated rural internet user from giving 3G a try. What do you think?

Interview for BBC Radio Berkshire


Now would you believe it? In early March 2011, I arrived home at around 6:15 pm to find a message on the answering machine from Phil Mercer at Radio Oxford asking whether I would do an interview about broadband at 6:45 that evening! I duly responded to the telephone number provided, expecting to hear that it was now a bit late to do this, but no, I would be contacted at 6:40 where the same procedure was followed as for the previous radio Berkshire experience. You can make up your own mind as to whether the options discussed about wireless broadband in rural areas might be of use to you?

Interview for Radio Oxford (2011)


NEW Interviews (2012)

Then 18 months later, along comes Amanda Dellor, a broadcast journalist for Radio Oxford, requesting a live telephone interview for the August bank holiday breakfast show with James Cannon. This had been prompted by the recent news that the Ewelme Parish Council and RAF Benson had taken initial steps to request a grant from DEFRA (Dept. for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) towards getting fibre optic cable installed in Ewelme. The three hour morning show consisted of music and local news interspersed with live and recorded interviews. I have recorded and compressed three sound files, which although some parts are repeated, provide an interesting insight into the current rural broadband dilemma. The first provides a view of the Parish Council. The second indicates that even following fibre optic installation doesn't satisfy everybody! The third tries to convey the adequacy of alternatives.  

Stream the sound by clicking each link.

The David Cooper Show

The Race to Infinity Show

The Chris Jenkins Show


Letter to Ed - Benson Bulletin
Response to resident of Preston Crowmarsh complaining of slow broadband in his village. You can also hear this letter being read, provided by a very impressive service offered by The Benson Bulletin.


Recent timescales as reported in the Ewelme News.

January 2010 - Cable is not planned for installation in this village for the foreseeable future.

April 2011 - OCC initiative of sharing Ewelme School's 4 Mbs cable connection will take up to two years.

September 2011 - Ewelme is due to be connected by fibre optic cable at Kings Pool by possibly end of December 2011.

March 2012 - The intention is that Ewelme will get next generation access to broadband by end of 2012.

July 2012 - It is unlikely that fibre optic cable will reach the central box for at least another year. "In the meantime, a solution is available via mobile broadband"

September 2012 - Ewelme might be connected around the end of 2013. (parish council minutes).

July 2013 - Oxfordshire County Council announce that the first phase of Superfast Broadband installations will be complete in the Spring of 2014.

Further articles on the subject of broadband can be found on the Ewelme Village web site.

It is my personal opinion that 3G/4G  is the future of  static wireless broadband communication in this area, even if a fibre-optic based cable eventually becomes available for fixed domestic locations (see 4G v Fibre).   It is now highly unlikely that further telephone cable pairs will be made available across Wallingford Bridge, but anyway, basic physics dictates that maximum data speeds of only around 1 Mbs are possible due to distance from exchange. Even this speed may not be the norm, where especially  to the West of Kings Pool,  it's not possible to achieve much more than 500 Kbs due to the indigenous aluminium telephone cables within the village network. Within the last couple of years, it has been increasingly  possible for a number of Ewelme residents using 3G or Mobile Broadband to achieve regular broadband speeds of 4 - 6 Mbs or more without  much difficulty, apart from ensuring use of latest hardware and careful dongle placement on an appropriate window.  There are decreasing situations where a 3G signal is difficult to obtain, and having driven around the village for three measurement surveys within the last 12 months, and obtained a continuous connection on all of them at ground level, must give an indication that with a little planning and experiment, success in one form or another can be achieved. Finally, for current users of 3G who are still using, for example, E156G or E1550 or similar modems only capable of operating up to 3.6 Mbs, it is highly recommended that these are upgraded to one of the latest 21 Mbs wireless router types. 3.5G (HSDPA+) is currently technically capable of achieving up to 21.6 Mbs (over 10Mbs has been reported by a new user in Ewelme) and 4G is expected to provide even higher speeds, and is currently being used in Scandinavia, with 100Mbs systems under development.  As its name implies, it is also mobile, so you can also use your dongle on your way to or at work, or on holiday. Perhaps the days of ageing and fixed copper/aluminium telephone wires are indeed numbered, and I for one have now relinquished my ADSL landline connection with BT and used the money for a  subscription for much faster 3G mobile broadband. If you are worried about giving up your BT broadband for something as yet unknown to you, remember that unlike landline broadband, you don't have to sign up for a 12 month contract. You can try 3G on a monthly basis, and walk away again if it doesn't suit. STOP PRESS - The government have now completed the sale of the  wireless frequencies originally used for the now defunct analogue TV channels  auctioned off in  2012 for use by the mobile telephone companies for 4G technology. That's 21 Mbs and upwards without digging up the road!

For those who have found this article complete gobbledegook, or are unwilling to take a  risk in investing in equipment without knowing whether it will work, may find that a free survey using some already prepared kit, would be the most preferable way of confirming that a broadband connection from a particular location within the village of Ewelme is indeed  possible. Send me an email with a request (or feedback) and your contact details , or I'm quite happy to chat about it on 828200.

Other useful links:

Articles about broadband in the Ewelme News

Beginner's Guide to Broadband

How wireless broadband works

Video and latest news about the world of Mobile Broadband

MobileBroadbandGenie - Consumer advice website dedicated to Mobile Broadband.

Think Broadband (mobile) - Tips and hints about Mobile Broadband.

Download tbbMeter

Purchase of 'unlocked' dongles to enable preferable type to be chosen.