Sorting out our domestic communications has been an ongoing stress factor for years. You might think I’m talking about between my wife and me, but it’s our telephone and wifi facilities. Crackles on the line, wifi signal slow, weak or non existent around the house. And to compound that, the mobile signals in Grayshott, whichever supplier you are with, are intermittent, particularly when at home.
So when my wife and I received an invitation to go to a Gigabit open evening at the village hall last May, we went along, both in a cynical frame of mind. Gigabit was offering to replace our old BT copper telephone connection with a fibre optic broadband service that delivered wifi speeds up to 10 times faster than we had and less costly. And a strong signal throughout the house. Very enticing, but how true? Was it all smoke and mirrors with smooth sales talk? What was the reliability like? And what about our BT telephone?
After a long discussion with Mashood Ahmad, the founder of Grayshott Gigabit, Nina and I decided to take the plunge and sign up for the service he was offering. We had nothing to lose. Our current supplier was twice the cost of gigabit fibre. There was a trial period; and if we wanted to include a telephone facility, there were several options available. And then to cap it all, even though we had some time to run on our current BT broadband wifi contract, Mashood agreed to install and only start charging when our current wifi contract ended.
When the day came for Gigabit to install the fibre optic cable, I was prepared for plenty of stressful disruption, there always is. But no, everything went smoothly. It took no more than 2 hours to complete and the changeover was instant. There was a short handover while a Gigabit engineer explained how we could monitor the performance of the new system.
To say we are delighted by the speed and reliability of our new wifi, is an understatement. It exceeds our expectations. Plus, it’s so refreshing to have an after sales support service that doesn’t have to go through a series of hurdles before perhaps speaking to someone if you’re lucky.
Having installed the highly reliable fibre optic wifi system, I wanted to connect our mobile phones through it. This was easier than I thought. We simply had to change our network supplier to one that offered the capability of linking mobiles to wifi, and eventually we discovered Smarty, a low cost supplier that lets you set your own monthly payment level. Not only were we now able to have free mobile calls at home through our wifi, but we had halved our monthly payments.
With a reliable inhouse mobile signal strength, Nina and I discussed the idea of completely ditching our ordinary landline phone and only having our mobiles. However, we had a Panasonic cordless telephone system with four handsets and just having our mobiles limited flexibility. We talked to the Gigabit team and asked them what they would suggest. After talking about all the options with them, We decided on having an Internet Protocol (IP) phone service. One to which we could attach our existing Panasonic system.
Getting rid of our landline felt like cutting an umbilical cord. We had been with BT forever. However, the IP phone service we chose, Vonage, was exactly what we wanted and made leaving BT simple and easy. We are able to use our Panasonic phones; all the calls are crackle free; the cost is 50% of a BT landline; if we are away from home, calls can be forwarded to our mobiles; and, most importantly, we are able to retain our old 01428- number.
It’s been an interesting journey from the system invented by Alexander Bell in 1875 to our fibre optic broadband IP phone. I’m sure, there will be more and more developments as communications technology races forward, but for now, our domestic communications have been sorted, thanks to Grayshott Gigabit and our wonderful IP phone. A cost saving exercise well worth taking.
By Tim Tinsley-Wickes CEng
After 5 years in the British Army, Tim joined the computer industry, and was involved in the design and installation of large mainframe computers. Later, after spells in sales with international companies, working throughout Europe, he formed his own specialist marketing development consultancy - his first assignment was to set up a computer business arm for Cable and Wireless in Brazil. Returning to the UK, his company, Wickes Associates International, became the leading IT marketing and PR consultancy in its field. The company was later acquired by Shandwick plc.
He then set up a communications hardware company, digicorp, which again, was sold to an IT distributor. He retired in 2002, after which he has assisted small and startup companies develop their business.