WiMax in Milton Keynes – not at that price, thank you!

Last year, I wrote a post about free Wi-Fi provision in central Milton Keynes. I wasn’t very impressed (although I’d like to see the service prosper) but have to admit that I haven’t tried it since. In the same post, I also mentioned that there was a WiMax trial planned for Milton Keynes and a few weeks back, after hearing nothing for over a year, I received an e-mail to tell me that it is now available in my area.

This sounded good – I have “up to 8Mbps” ADSL at home and my router tells me that I get about 7.2Mbps downstream with about 448Kbps upstream, but if I could get good upstream bandwidth too then that would be an advantage. Then I noticed two things that put me off.

Firstly, the service is provided by Connect MK – who claim to be:

“A Council company created to provide better broadband services for Milton Keynes”

WTF! Milton Keynes Council appears to me to be incapable of managing anything of any substance (of course, that is purely a personal opinion, based on my experience as a Council Tax payer). In the small town where I live (under the control of the unitary authority that is Milton Keynes Council) we have: a secondary school that opened 8 months late and £3m over budget [source: political propaganda for the upcoming local elections], with design changes that mean it stands out like a blot on our (pleasant) landscape; a backlog of road repairs; short-sighted planning decisions with councillors supporting further expansion without any of the supporting infrastructure (including the grid road system that has worked so well for the last 30 years in urban Milton Keynes); etc., etc. (my list could go on and on, but let’s stop here – you get the idea). Now the same council wants to provide network infrastructure services. It’s not 1 April is it? Not according to my calendar anyway.

Secondly, the price: a 1Mbps downstream/512Kbps upstream package with a 10GB download limit is advertised for £20 a month; 2Mbps down and 512Kbps up with a 20GB allowance is £25; but 2Mbps down and 1Mbps up with a 40GB allowance is a staggering £50 a month! Are they joking?

I pay around £30 for my small business ADSL service and I have no issues with bandwidth allowances (my current ISP operates a system of peak and off-peak usage, and the off-peak usage really is unlimited, with peak usage rates depending upon the tariff). If I wanted a residential service I could pay a lot less than that. For that matter, I can get HSPA mobile broadband Internet for £15 a month on an £18 month contract.

As it happens, Connect MK is a reseller for the infrastructure provided by FREEDOM4 (formerly Pipex Communications). Interestingly, despite having supplied my home address and postcode details to Pipex and Connect MK having e-mailed me to say “Great news – You can now receive a WiMAX Broadband Service”, neither the current FREEDOM4 coverage map nor the coverage checker on their website indicates that I can receive the service – at this time it only seems to cover urban areas of Milton Keynes. It’s not a very good indictment of Connect MK’s ability to provide a reliable service when they haven’t even worked out that I live 10 miles outside their coverage area.

Regardless of the network coverage, I fail to see who would even consider the Connect MK WiMax service as an alternative to ADSL or cable. At the prices quoted, I can’t imagine much of Milton Keynes’ population getting connected with Connect MK.

7 thoughts on “WiMax in Milton Keynes – not at that price, thank you!


  1. I like your comments Mark. I am probably one of the few you talk of who thought that WiMax was a good idea and that if executed well could be good for those of us who live at the end of the very loooong cable which connects us to the exchange at the other side of the ‘city’. My home ADSL is pretty stable but sadly can only sustain 1Mbps but I was told that I couldn’t get WiMax at home.

    I manage IT for a local MK company and needed a broadband connection that gave me half decent outgoing speeds so thought that the offerings from ConnectMK might be right for the application and more to the point within the budget. I too thought ‘run by MK council, WTF is that all about’ but decided to give it a try as they came and installed it free and gave me a couple of months free trial which surprisingly went very well. All I can say is now we are paying for the service it has has been very poor and the connection is down more than up! Seems that they have a very small pool of IP addresses as the DHCP server seems to refuse a lease for any great length of time so renews every 300 seconds! My request for a static IP seems to be beyond their capability as they keep telling me that service is not available yet and can’t give me any idea when it will be, and I thought rocket science was difficult.

    When it is working and I can manage to keep hold of an IP the speeds are not too bad, nowhere near what they quote but acceptable (why accept substandard service I hear you say!) not for much longer, feel a cancellation letter coming on.

    I was approached by Freedom4 to attend a seminar and speak to other potential customers and tell them about my experience as we were one of the first to use the service, I politely declined as I thought that what I had to say probably wouldn’t go down to well.

    It’s a shame they have messed it up as there are a lot of people who could benefit from this type of connection, you never know they might manage to sort it out :-(


  2. Hi Gary,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Even though my original post is a bit of a rant, it’s interesting to hear the experience of someone who is actually using the service.

    Good luck in getting a reliable service. It’s amazing that they can’t give you a static IP address for a business connection!

    All the best, Mark


  3. I too shared your dismay about the service because of its ridiculous pricing and download caps. I was a triallist and was hoping that it would the answer when the service was launched. When the pricing plan was announced I was so dismayed about the overpricing I emailed Steven Jewell telling him how overpriced it was and why I would not be taking up the service.

    But now it seems somebody has seen sense – the pricing is now £13.99 for a 2M down but no mention of the upstream on the website. Unlimited downloads but subject to ‘fair use policy’. They reserve the right to cut off people who they believe are abusing the system. Nice! Again there is no detail of how many GB a month they consider to be fair use.

    I also agree with your comments about the council. They really are proving to be totally useless in the running of Milton Keynes. I also have a long list of gripes about state of the city which I won’t bore you with. If it were a private company I would have my money back for non provision of services. They need a serious boot up the backside and I think the only way to do this is at the ballot box.


  4. Although this wsa posted in 2008, I would just like to comment that at that time the companies were just being established. As like any business that is starting up there are some implications in place that may cause disruption to the service.

    ConnectMK are a Limited Company that is owned by Milton Keynes Council. Therfore means that they are completly seperate (from what I gather)

    I currently use the Wi-Max provied by ConnectMK and live outside of there coverage area but I can still get the top speed that they offer. There have been a few hiccups along the way but then who ever has a 100% stable service with who ever there provider is??

    Mark I can see from your first post that this is more of a rant against Milton Keynes Council rather than ConnectMK themselves.

    I can see that in the 3 years since your first post that ConnectMK has gone under quite a few changes and if ever I have had any problems they are always friendly and willing to accomodate my needs if and where possible. I currently run on a Static IP which was really simple to do and ConnectMK provided me with all the information I required for the change from a dynamic IP to the Static. (Excuse me if I get parts incorrect I am not the most technical person)
    ConnectMK supplied me the Static IP address and the Subnet Masks within 24 hours of asking which was alot quicker than other broadband suppliers.

    I hope you take the time to read this from a current user and more up to date perspective.

    Thanks

    Louise


  5. Louise, it’s good to hear that you’re a satisfied customer; however I stand by my comments from 2008. I’m sure much has moved on since then but it’s interesting to see this topic rise up again…

    Only last week, a colleague who lives on the west side of Milton Keynes was commenting that BT is unable to provide an “Infinity” service because, even though the fibre is laid, there are issues with installing communications boxes, due to council planning restrictions. I must admit I’ve not verified this (and am happy to be corrected) but, if the Council owns a competing service (even as a separate limited company), maybe there is a conflict of interest here?

    Mark


  6. From what i understand (This is just from being a user of their service) They offer the broadband to those who cannot gain a sufficient service. They are designed to help rather than prevent others not being able to recieve a service. For example I was paying £30.00 a month for a service that i was lucky to get 1mg on.

    I now get a stable 2-512 service and the best part is that they are local so no calls abroad and even better they do not follow a script. Any questions that are not classed as the ‘norm’ they can still help.

    Also thank you for taking the time to comment on my last post

    Thanks

    Louise


  7. That certainly sounds like you’re getting a good experience with them. And I recognise the benefits with being able to have an unscripted conversation with someone who actually understands the issue (that’s why I’m staying with my current ISP, even though I could probably get a less expensive package elsewhere).

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