W.H. GITTINS & SONS
People living and working in rural areas are struggling to get fast broadband. Some are unable to receive broadband at all, others are lumbered with less than 2Mbs, making a lot of the ways most of us use the Internet day-to-day a frustrating, even impossible proposition.
Simon and Kate Gittins of W.H. Gittins & Sons, based at Hall Farm Ruyton-XI-Towns and Wykey, Shropshire, first approached Keith Franklin at RuralTech in early 2016 to help with broadband connectivity at Hall Farm.
Keith advised a switch of Internet provider from EE to Zen, along with a new business-grade DrayTek router to improve connectivity and reliability. This in turn facilitated a proactive approach from BT OpenReach to finding and fixing a line fault, which improved the download and upload speeds.
Attention then turned to the new purpose-built farm office at Wykey Farm. Solving broadband and mobile connectivity for all staff was key. Keith investigated the existing connectivity provided by Airband via a microwave link and then planned out the network and Wi-Fi infrastructure for the new office complex. He has since installed a new business-grade DrayTek router for connectivity and security to prevent unauthorised third party access and the Gittins’ are now enjoying reliable, high-speed Internet access.
He has also installed, configured and tested a number of switches, CAT5 network points and Wireless Access Points using Ubiquiti business-grade equipment to connect the farm office, main yard and back yard, sheds, the Farm Manager’s house and the main farm house.
There has been a strong emphasis on cyber security. Keith has advised on a comprehensive anti-virus software package to combat the threats posed by hackers and malware, including ransomware attacks. This is under constant review. Poor mobile telephone coverage is no longer an issue now that there is comprehensive Wi-Fi provision and coverage; the Gittins family and their staff can happily make and receive calls using the Wi-Fi calling app.
In addition, Keith has set up a secure dedicated network for outside visitors to the farm, which is particularly useful when technicians require data access whilst servicing farm equipment, and he has implemented a facility for farm machinery, such as tractors and combines, to upload and download data via Wi-Fi to the Farmplan software. Lastly, 24-hour monitoring of Wykey Farm’s Anaerobic Digester Plant has been made possible due to the Wi-Fi and network upgrade.
Simon Gittins couldn’t be happier, “Our business is now moving forward and it has only been made possible because of Keith’s input. We are already looking forward to the next phase: the microwave linking of all the other farm domestic properties, the upgrade of our email system to a cloud-based system to allow for extras such as staffing/holiday calendars, etc. plus off-site business-grade real time data backup.”
Farming and cheese-making have been a way of life for the Appleby family since 1952. Today, Appleby’s is a 3rd generation dairy farm with over 400 dairy cows on site, where the focus is on producing milk to make the award-winning Appleby’s cheese. As well as cheese, Appleby’s are also butter patters and providers of fresh, raw milk via an on-site vending machine.
Sarah Appleby, along with her husband Paul and five young children, lives at Hawkstone Abbey Farm near Whitchurch in Shropshire and is fully involved in the business. Here she explains how since August 2008, Appleby’s has benefited from RuralTech’s advice and expertise as the business continued to diversify.
“RuralTech has helped us improve the structure and efficiency of our farm office. Keith provides on-going support for the office PCs and laptop with operating and application software along with anti-virus and anti-malware security software. He also assists with data backup including cloud, local area network, Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity.
“All the family and members of staff can access the Internet on the farm, thanks to the installation of two wireless access points, which provide safe, secure coverage for our mobiles and laptops. Previous email boxes have been transferred to G Suite allowing us all to access our emails safely and securely across our mobiles, laptops and PCs.
“In the milking parlour, Keith has installed a desktop PC with dairy herd management software, which enables us to collect data on all the cows and in turn, this allows for better production and individual animal health decision-making. This system is also connected to the Internet, facilitating advisory reporting and remote technical support.
“And lastly and most excitingly, RuralTech has also helped set up our ‘Milkbot’ raw milk vending machine, allowing customers to fill a bottle straight from the farm. Keith connected it to the Internet for us using a business-grade HomePlug, which means we are able to take bank card payments and manage the whole thing remotely.” Appleby’s raw milk vending machine was launched on 5th June 2016 and it is open for business 24 hours a day.
For further information on Appleby’s Cheese, contact Sarah at
BURLTON COTTAGES & THE SPA AT BURLTON
Burlton Cottages, which opened for business in May 2014, comprises three converted cottages and a newly-opened Spa and gym on a family-run 500-acre private farming estate in the heart of the Shropshire countryside.
“High on the list of bugbears when it comes to guest accommodation is poor, slow and/or costly Wi-Fi”, explains owner, Rachel Mee. Problem-free connection to the Internet is key to guest satisfaction – an integral part of the overall guest experience – and RuralTech has enabled Burlton Cottages to provide this as standard.
Internet connection for each cottage has been installed and managed by RuralTech since August 2014. A Ubiquiti wireless access point has completely transformed the Wi-Fi offering for Rachel’s guests. Plugged in to her existing network, it offers a cloud managed solution for the Wi-Fi, which allows for complete support for guests and owner. This gives further brand awareness, both in network Wi-Fi naming and guests having to accept a user policy agreement. The wireless access point automatically updates its operating software, which means that the latest smartphone, tablet or laptop will always work. Also, each guest device is connected via a secure unique IP address that prevents access from other devices. When combined with real-time data, scanning and recording, there is the ability to produce accurate daily, weekly and monthly reports. All of these features allow for the Wi-Fi to be managed and exceed minimum industry standards. The end result is a happy connected guest, even in rural Shropshire!
Just before Easter 2016, Burlton village gained superfast VDSL Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) broadband, which was great news for Rachel. Burlton Cottages, with RuralTech’s help, now offers its guests complimentary tried and tested secure, safe, superfast fibre Wi-Fi, with unlimited usage.
Rachel believes appointing RuralTech is an investment worth making. “I no longer have guests knocking at my door complaining that the Wi-Fi isn’t working! Instead, I have satisfied guests streaming Netflix programmes, keeping up-to-date with social media, checking emails and doing online shopping, etc. – not just in the cottages but also whilst using the new Spa and gym. It really is wonderful being able to provide consistent and dependable Wi-Fi in such a rural area.”
Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org,