Network Communications News (NCN) October 2017 - Page 42

WIRELESS NETWORKS Fossils fuel Jurassic Coast broadband evolution Kimmeridge residents rejoice as superfast broadband brings them out of the stone age, ahead of the opening of lottery funded museum. S et on the Jurassic coast of Dorset, Kimmeridge is a renowned tourist hub for its ‘Outstanding Natural Beauty’, World Heritage site and Special Scientific Interest sites. Not as impressive though, was its notoriety for its lacking communications infrastructure. Depleted investments in the area had rendered communication, unreliable with sub 200k internet connectivity and abysmal mobile phone signal. “It wasn’t that it was slow, it wasn’t there at all” Helen and Stephen Earwicker, Kimmeridge residents recall. Up to speed The already prevalent communications issue came to a-head when, thanks to lottery funding, Kimmeridge was announced to soon home a new museum hosting one of the largest fossil collections in the area, The Etches. The museum identified it would need to have a strong online presence in order to attract 42 | October 2017 tourists from other hotspots, but with residents, schools and even businesses struggling to be able to achieve 200kbps broadband, the likelihood of rolling an influential online presence looked slim. The growing picturesque village, though previously considered ‘too small’ to justify the attention of a larger commercial investment, decided to tackle the ever-prominent issue. By no means a small project, independent communications specialist, Voip Unlimited, were selected to bring Kimmeridge out of the stone-age. On completion of a site survey, Voip Unlimited engineers were presented with a host of problems. With most issues being geographic, the engineers had to create an innovative wireless network design. Utilising Portland Harbour, which had a direct line of sight to one of the highest points in Kimmeridge, a plan was devised to run 2km of fibre across Portland, connecting this to a licensed microwave link which spans the bay to a newly installed mast. By over engineering the project and adding two antennas on the mast, engineers created a dual resiliency for the connection, meaning that services would be 100% reliable once live. A problematic instalment “A protected Special Scientific Interest (SSI) zone meant engineers were unable to make changes to the ground structure.” There were various hurdles in deployment stages, adhering to legislations with the land being protected; mandatory visual impact statements and the requirement for an archaeologist to oversee any excavation. Though keeping disruption to a minimum, there was a small period of time where a road closure and temporary power downtime was necessary in order for a third party to install electricity supply. Winter weather conditions, together with a steep incline hill location, also meant the fibre installation digger needed to be supported by a bulldozer for added stability. Securing the new mast with concrete proved to be another challenge as, due to the gradient, the mixing process had to be done at the top of the hill.