Wi-Fi and Connectivity Options for Village Halls

Did you know that village halls in need of a bit of updating and renovation can apply for a share of a £3m fund, all in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee?

 

This follows the tradition of village hall investments for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and King George V’s Silver Jubilee in 1935. 

 

125 lucky village hall recipients will have a share of the £3m fund, which can be put towards renovations and building improvements including Wi-Fi.  

 

You might well be hosting or celebrating in your local village hall for this weekend’s Jubilee celebrations! Village halls are often the heart of communities, bringing people together. It’s vital these hubs stay well connected with strong, reliable Wi-Fi. 

Wi-Fi for Village Halls – A Quick Guide

If you’re a part of the committee that looks after your local village hall, then you’ll know that there is an ever-increasing need for these community buildings to offer broadband and Wi-Fi access to their users. 

 

Not only will this support a wide range of community activities and events, it will also enhance the facilities you can offer as a venue to those who hire your space. 

 

So what do you need to consider to improve digital connectivity for your communities and businesses by making sure your village hall is well connected? 

 

Get a Broadband Connection


Before even thinking about Wi-Fi or broadband, you need to make sure you have a telephone landline. The only exception is if you are able to get cable or fibre access to the hall. You can read more about FTTP in one of our previous blogs here. Make sure that you have a business contract rather than residential, as it will be for public use. 

 

To get a new telephone line, order one through BT.com. After that’s done, you can upgrade to broadband. Always make sure you check with the ISP that you are able to make your internet connection available to the public before placing your order. 

 

If you want to get broadband without a landline, you would need to be able to have a cable, full fibre or mobile broadband connection. More on that later! 

 

Not got an official postal address? Some village halls don’t actually have an official post office address which can cause problems with some ISP’s as they may insist that you have one in order to place an order. If you find this is the case, you can contact the Post Office and request an official address here.

 

Some ISP’s will accept what’s known as an ‘unserved’ building but they may ask to do an initial survey before they confirm your order.  

 

How much will it cost to install Wi-Fi in a village hall?

You will need to incur some costs to get Wi-Fi successfully set up in your village hall. Bear in mind the following likely outgoings:

  • Installation and connection costs for a new telephone line (plus VAT) and broadband connection (if required)
  • Line rental for the telephone line (ongoing costs)
  • Data usage charges from broadband / Wi-Fi use (ongoing costs)
  • Any work required to install the Wi-Fi router in a secure location, plus additional devices that may be needed to boost Wi-Fi signal 

 

You can help keep costs to a minimum by shopping around for the best contract available on price comparison websites. Remember you need a business contract, not a residential one! Make sure you balance out the costs with data usage limits and of course, reliability.

 

Remember though, making improvements with the Wi-Fi in your village hall is investing in its successful future. It’s vital that these community hubs are well connected for their users. And even better if you can get the costs covered by securing part of the £3m Jubilee fund!

 

Security

 

We cannot express enough how important it is to make sure that your Wi-Fi is secure. You should manage and filter the access to your Wi-Fi signal. 

 

If you were to allow unmanaged access to your Wi-Fi, people may use your broadband connection for illegal purposes. By providing the Wi-Fi for this, you could be liable. 

 

Luckily for you, it’s super easy to manage your Wi-Fi security – And definitely not something that should put you off setting up a Wi-Fi connection in your village hall. 

 

To minimise the risk of inappropriate use, you should:

 

  • Install your router in a secure place where only authorised users are able to physically access it. Don’t let people connect to your router via Ethernet cable as they could make changes.
  • Routers usually display the passwords you need in order to manage and access your Wi-Fi connection. If you think it’s possible for unauthorised users to access this information, then consider changing the User ID and admin password (instructions on how to do this should be in your router user guide).
  • Regularly change your Wi-Fi access password for users. This means that only current users will be able to use your Wi-Fi connection, rather than someone who isn’t authorised or is re-using a password they’ve previously been issued with.
  • Always ensure that the parental control setting is switched on. This prevents access to any unsuitable websites on your Wi-Fi connection. You can use your router manual to set appropriate firewall settings to set the level of restriction required. 

 

 

The router in our village hall doesn’t reach the whole building

 

If you already have a router installed in your village hall, but it’s not reaching far enough and you’re struggling with black spots or slower Wi-Fi in certain places then you may need to extend your Wi-Fi coverage. 

 

This is particularly relevant if you have a large village hall building – The signal just may not be strong enough to reach everywhere it needs to from one router. 

 

We mentioned above that it’s important for the router to be in a secure area so unauthorised people cannot access it. This could mean that it’s been placed in a less than ideal location for signal strength and connectivity. It’s vital to balance the two! 

 

Ideally, you will be able to place the router in a central location, but if that is not the case then you may need to install other devices to extend the signal to other locations within your village hall building. You could potentially use a powerline adapter or a Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal strength and get wider Wi-Fi coverage in the building. 

 

Mobile Broadband for Rural Village Halls

You and your users might not be in London, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t expect the same Wi-Fi connection that you get in urban areas – Despite being in more rural ones. 

 

Unfortunately there are many parts of the countryside that are suffering from a broadband deficit – Indeed, there seems to be a connectivity imbalance across the countryside, with many village halls struggling.

Over the past year particularly, we’ve installed countless numbers of external 4G antennas and routers in rural areas, effectively replacing the broadband through the telephone cable using a data SIM card.

 

You can read more about our 4G Mobile Broadband solutions in a previous blog of ours here

 

If you are wary about whether Mobile Broadband could work in your more rural village hall, then our Cellular Survey could be just what you need. We can map the availability of cellular and data coverage within a building and report the details of phone coverage for 2G, 3G, 4G/LTE and 5G. We can measure the cellular connectivity, data upload and download speeds and the occurrence of dropped and failed calls for all the main mobile network operators. You can read more about this here

 

Want to know more about how Geekabit could help get your village hall connected?

For further information about securing a strong Wi-Fi connection in your village hall, please email our Wi-Fi experts at info@geekabit.co.uk and someone will be in touch as soon as possible.

 

We work out of London, Hampshire and Cardiff, covering community buildings, businesses and larger residential properties. 

 

Which is best for my business – FTTP or a Leased Line?

 

Let’s face it – These days, business flow depends on connectivity. 

 

With remote working now more prevalent than ever before, there is a significant business need for straightforward online collaboration. Not to mention business critical operations and organisational efficiency. 

 

For a successful business, you need a reliable, strong connection that doesn’t buffer or drop out during vital video calls and digital team meetings. 

 

What’s the point in having top of the range tech and dedicated employees if you don’t have the broadband speed to keep up with their communications or computers?

 

There is nothing less motivating than slow internet – Lagging video, audio that’s out of sync, calls that drop out, pages that load slowly. It makes us feel frustrated just thinking about it! 

 

And whilst it might not sound like much – That 30 seconds of delay here and there throughout the day could actually add up to a lot of lost productivity across an organisation in just one week. 

 

So what’s the solution? For any small business, it’s really down to two options – FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) or a leased line. But which one is best for your business?

 

What is FTTP and how does it work?

 

As we said above, FTTP is Fibre to the Premises. It means an internet connection that is designed for small businesses and consumer use.  

 

FTTP works by sending data over a fibre optic cable from the exchange to the user’s premises. FTTP relies on already existing broadband infrastructure, which means that users share the bandwidth. This could lead to slower connection speeds and unreliability during peak times. 

 

An FTTP service is asymmetrical, meaning that the upload and download speeds are not the same. 

 

What is a leased line and how does it work?

 

A leased line, or fibre leased line, is a dedicated fibre optic service. It has a fixed bandwidth and is provided directly to the premises. Unlike FTTP, a leased line connects directly to the public internet. This means there is no shared infrastructure – thus the data’s journey is very different. 

 

Due to leased lines being dedicated, it won’t be affected at peak times because the bandwidth is reserved exclusively for that user. A leased line also uploads data at the same time as it downloads – Useful for sending large files or if you use VoIP telephones throughout the business. 

 

How do FTTP and Leased Line compare? 

 

Let’s take a look at how FTTP and Leased Line compare to each other in terms of use and functionality. Depending on how these fit with your business, you should hopefully be able to identify which would work better for you and your business operations. 

 

Speed and Bandwidth for FTTP vs Leased Line

 

Using an FTTp service, your highest download speed will be in the range of 300mbps and 1Gbps. Remember, in this scenario you share the infrastructure with other users, which means that during busy periods your bandwidth is likely to be compromised. Generally speaking you are looking at about 32 customers on an FTTP service. 

 

On a Leased Line, all of the bandwidth is there for you to use. The connection speeds on a Leased Line could be up to 10Gbps, with the same upload and download speeds. This is particularly useful for high-demand users, who could struggle on an asymmetrical FTTP. 

 

Traffic on a FTTP vs Leased Line

FTTP services can have a monthly data transfer quote which means it would be important for you to stay on top of your data usage. 

 

A leased line has availability 24/7 all year round, which means you have unlimited data transfers. 

 

Price of FTTP vs Leased Line

There is a significant difference in price when it comes to FTTP and Leased Line. 

 

The cheaper option is FTTP. This is because it’s a shared service, and more specifically aimed at residential properties and small businesses. You would likely be looking between £30 and £60 per month, which of course depends on the provider and the speed of the broadband you choose. For a new FTTP installation, it would take about 10-15 days. 

 

For Leased Lines, you would be looking at a cost of about £150 per month for lower bandwidths. Not only is it up to 5 times the cost of some FTTP, you may also incur additional charges (construction charges) which can push the price up more. Installation wise you would be looking at about 60-90 days to get things set up. 

 

Service Level Agreements for FTTP vs Leased Lines 

 

Whichever service you go for, you will have an SLA. The SLA for a Leased Line will be more thorough – For example, any fault on the line that needs fixing will be repaired within 5 hours. In comparison, a fault on FTTP could take 2 days to fix. 

 

An SLA will also lay out the speed of a Leased Line, which you can then be compensated for if it is consistently slower. This isn’t something you can do with FTTP. 

 

A Leased Line also comes with 24/7 support, whereas support for a FTTP line will be within business hours. 

 

Reliability of FTTP vs Leased Lines

 

As we mentioned above, when using an FTTP line, you could notice an adverse chane in connection during peak times. Leased Lines will never experience this problem (unless there is a fault) so you are less likely to have the connection drop out. This means that a Leased Line is the more reliable connection of the two. 

 

Availability

 

Leased Lines are available throughout the UK, but of course their accessibility depends on whether you can afford the cost. 

 

Whilst FTTP is a cheaper option, it is only available to approximately 94% of the UK.

 

Contracts

 

Contract options for these lines are as follows:

  • FTTP – 12 months, 18 months or 24 months, 
  • Leased Line – 12 months, 36 months, or 60 months 

 

It’s worth noting that if you choose a 12 month Leased Line contract, you’ll be paying more each month to spread the installation cost. 

 

So Which One is Best – Leased Line or FTTP?

 

If you own a small business, run a charity or are a residential consumer, then FTTP will likely meet your needs. 

 

Generally speaking, if you are one of these types of consumer then you won’t be needing service 24/7 all year round. You are also less likely to be transferring huge amounts of data too. And it’s the cheaper option! 

 

For larger businesses and organisations that rely more on a reliable connection, then a dedicated Leased Line service with a thorough SLA could be the better choice. You will then have peace of mind that your broadband is sturdy, and should something go wrong with it you’re backed up by a speedy resolution. Keeping disruption to your organisation to a minimum! 

 

Get In Touch

 

If you are feeling unsure about what could be the best internet service for your business and would like to discuss your connectivity needs, then get in touch with one of our Wi-Fi Experts today. We operate out of Hampshire, London and Cardiff and can help you to make sure that your connectivity meets your business or residential needs – Both in terms of connection but cost too.