Uckfield FM is a full time community radio station serving Uckfield and the surrounding villages, which was originally set-up in 2002 to support the Uckfield Festival group. Broadcasting from studios at Bird in Eye Farm on the edge of town, the station broadcasts a variety of programmes to suit all ages. It is a not for profit voluntary organisation with a team of 80 members. http://www.uckfieldfm.co.uk/
Gary King is a co-founder, broadcaster and Business Development Manager at Uckfield FM. Prior to the eSussex project intervention, Gary said that operating the business was more than challenging due to the poor broadband connectivity available in the area. The station relies on the ability to be able to download music from the internet to its computers, to both use live as a continuous flow as it downloads and to prepare music streams in advance in order to upload them to third parties. Being able to upload data is particularly important to Uckfield FM’s operation.
The streaming of their live programming to the internet for the benefit of listeners was extremely problematic, with constraints on bandwidths; this vital element of the business in turn presented the team with a difficult balancing act in having to maintain the ability to manage general web browsing and email alongside other activities . This all required a fast connection.
Their experience of running the business was frustrating, quality of downloads was affected, uploading files took hours (often overnight), and buffering was a constant issue.
The eSussex project has delivered ultrafast technology through a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) solution. Having discussed with the Board to gain approval to upgrade to FTTP (which was agreed immediately as it was considered to be a business critical development) Gary said that the process of connection was straightforward and a smooth operation; they were connected within 2 weeks from placing an order with the Internet Service Provider of their choice.
An engineer arrived on the agreed date to make the connection, running a cable from the nearest distribution point installed through the infrastructure build direct into the offices. Speeds were checked once the connection was made and 90Mbps download with 10Mbps upload speeds were instantly available. Gary was told by the engineer that the connection usually takes 24 hours to fully settle, but was pleased to report that, in fact, their speed increased to the maximum level selected in the package he purchased within 8 hours. Uckfield FM is now receiving a download speed of 150Mbps and upload speed of 30Mbps, unimaginable prior to the eSussex intervention.
The outcome has had a significant impact on the business, which is now operating with no downtime, download or upload issues, resulting in efficiencies in its operation.