David Smith, Director of DJS Process Consulting based in Consett was frustrated by the lack of fast reliable broadband affecting both his business and home life with his wife. Living in a rural area David sought out alternative broadband technologies.
How do you use broadband in your home and business?
Our home use of broadband is very typical. My wife and I watch YouTube, buy movies and stream them etc and like to game online occasionally. I’d say we’re at the higher end of using tech in the home.
My business is in tech consultancy, and I work with clients globally using Zoom and Teams for teleconferencing when I’m not travelling to meet them face to face. I look at process design and detailed engineering CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings which have to be downloaded, and I upload a lot of documents – with the work I do reliable internet is really essential.
What impact to your home life and business was slow broadband having?
At home it meant that we couldn’t stream movies in HD and when I was gaming it would sometimes buffer and drop out, it would be very frustrating.
At work, calls would drop out and I’d have to reconnect, and processes would move more slowly – I’d often get a cup of coffee when trying to upload/ download a file as it took so long. It wasn’t efficient and I felt unprofessional having to apologise to clients when the connection dropped on calls.
Why did you consider 5G as a solution?
As our house is five miles away from the nearest broadband cabinet we were getting low speeds on fibre-to-the-cabinet. With my tech background I started looking at other solutions. By luck I learned that a new 5G mast had been placed not far from our home so I decided to do some research into this option.
How has using 5G changed the way you use broadband/ do business?
We’re still doing everything that we were doing before only now it’s faster. Both in home life and work life we can do things more efficiently and with confidence that our connection isn’t going to faulter. Although it varies at different times of the day, we’re typically getting around 100 Mbps speeds – a vast improvement.
What made you chose a 5G over an alternative such as satellite?
All of the research I did favoured 5G over satellite. Although set-up costs are similar, the price per month for satellite is more and I had worries about the latency with running my business. Having the 5G mast so close was also a deciding factor – we’re lucky, I can see it from outside my house.
How long did it take to set up? What was the process you went through from placing the order to being connected? Was it simple?
Lot of providers offer off-the-shelf packages for 5G and I could have gone down that route, but with my tech experience I decided to buy a business 5G router and SIM separately. I opted for a Teltonika RUTX50 at a one-off cost of £500 and then purchased an unlimited 5G data SIM from a mobile network operator for £33 a month. Once I placed the SIM in the router I just had to plug it in – exactly like a fixed line router.
I did also spend an extra £50 on an external aerial to boost the signal but this was just preference, the router comes with aerials built in.
Have you come across any issues or barriers with using an alternative solution?
Using 5G outside of a package deal is working really well for me but choice is limited – there’s currently only two brands making a business 5G router.
Some parts of set-up were also more technical than others – not a problem for me but for people with less technical knowledge a supplier package might be better suited. Be aware though that often the routers supplied don’t have ethernet ports, you really need to do your research to find something that fits your needs.
5G speed and reliability is also dependent on the strength of signal based on the distance from the masts and having a clear line of sight, things we fortunately have.
What would you say to someone considering an alternative solution to fixed fibre broadband?
It’s definitely worth looking at other options. Broadband suppliers could only guarantee me 1Mbps with fibre-to-the-cabinet and I’m getting speeds 100x that. 5G data SIM contracts are flexible and monthly costs aren’t scarily high like other solutions.
If you live in a remote area that has 5G its hands down the best solution.
For more information on the different ways you can get online visit our Alternative broadband technologies page. To find out more about mobile broadband availability and coverage for the four mobile network operators (EE, O2, Three, Vodafone) in your area check out the Ofcom mobile availability checker.