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Rural wireless internet provider slams council over ‘unfair’ local broadband plan

A rural wireless broadband provider has accused local council officials of ignoring his service in their plans for local broadband access.

Kijoma Broadband – which offers up to 30Mbps broadband – claims it has never been mentioned in West Sussex County Council plans, because they’re focussed on fixed line broadband.

Bill Lewis, Kijoma’s owner, says he can’t invest in expanding his network in case it’s steam-rollered by fixed line services subsidised by public funds.

Kijoma Broadband coverage and expansion plans

The council was recently awarded £6.26m by the government to provide high speed broadband, but Lewis says Kijoma wasn’t named in the county’s broadband plan.

Lewis told the West Sussex County Times: “The ‘unfairly’ issue primarily hinges on excluding Kijoma by name and action from any of their output.

“They never mention our existence or the existence of our service via the media and continually give a token line about ‘wireless’ on their website which has always been accompanied with a ‘but’ doubt inducing comment to qualify it.”

Kijoma could cover a significant part of the Horsham district without customers needing their fixed-line connections being upgraded, Lewis adds.

But county council maps – now removed from its website – ignored Kijoma’s coverage and unfairly compared its 30Mbps costs to renting commercial Ethernet lines.

“Kijoma and many other independents agree that this funding methodology is flawed and is stifling the market,” he said.

“Many companies who would commercially fill the gaps and raise private investment are unable to do so with the spectre of a “one horse race” fed from public funds.”

West Sussex County Council said all broadband providers will have a chance to demonstrate their coverage and plans in a forthcoming consultation.

The West Sussex broadband plan accepted by the government sets a target of 100 per cent 2Mbps broadband access for the whole county, and ‘superfast’ speeds over 24Mbps for 90 per cent of the population by 2015.

A spokesperson for the council said: “West Sussex Better Connected and the County Council acts impartially and fairly in its dialogue with broadband providers. Neither organisation has acted unfairly towards any particular provider. Both have acted fairly towards Mr Lewis.”

Kijoma Broadband uses fixed microwave wireless links that can cover up to 20km from an antenna and have their own high speed connection to the UK internet backbone. Customers need line-of-sight to the Kijoma mast, but repeater masts can be used to fill gaps caused by hills and dense woodland.

Cover image: ndrwfgg/Flickr