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Tag: innovation

Around the campfire: Awesome Rural Broadband

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This week’s Around the Campfire chat with our Founder and CEO, Jason Cozens

I never thought I’d have to test my skills as an electrician / tree surgeon, (I actually trained as an architect), or consider my expertise when it came to configuring awesome rural broadband… but here at Glint, like the gold we love, we are made of resilient stuff.

So, when the lock down happened and we had to self-isolate, my partner and I decided to move to the countryside, to my in-laws, with whom she runs a business, so they could run operations together and support each other. So far, so good… nice, fresh country air, warm weather for the time of year and an established Glint team who have built a secure distributed system and had previously conducted tests for working from home as part of a disaster management and recovery initiative back in December. After all, our clients want 100% up time from our gold-based alternative to banking, payments and money, as they should.

What could go wrong? This is idyllic, right?

Wrong… In order to work as closely as I want to with my brilliant team, I need brilliant communications, excellent video conferencing and super-fast downloads… not the 1-3mb/s I was getting from the ADSL rural broadband. I was locked out in lock down.

My first thought was Mobile Broadband, use a dongle to get more speed! But still, with the small windows and thick walls of the farmhouse, the best I was achieving was around 10-15mb/s and needed more than 50, ideally more than 60! Now, I’m in the business of saving money with reliable gold, not printing cash and wasting my kids’ inheritance, so going down the fibre optic route at the princely sum of around £10k to get online seemed like a problem worth confronting.

So, like with everything we do at Glint, I began by researching. I became expert in all things 4G, 5G and beyond… to find the solution in mobile broadband with external antennas. My concept was simple: I would use a big external antenna to pick the signal from a cell tower a couple of miles down the country lane. I purchased the most powerful antenna I could. Bought two, if you put them at right angles they ‘polarise’ with each other! I confess, I can’t fully understand the science but it means a stronger signal. So after setting up the kit, lying the antennas in the garden… (it took a while to configure the router and the access points)… I got there, thanks to some clear instructions and visits to a few discussion forums and support pages via my mobile phone.

Moment of truth… I connected my laptop and hallelujah! I had a signal coming through straight away. Then I got a long extension cable and started moving the antenna around the garden; I had to find where the nearest cell towers were; another website gave me a compass bearing (I used the compass on my phone), using the co-ordinates of my and the cell towers locations that I got from google maps. Next I needed height, the higher I could get the better the signal… the roof? Even better, there’s a huge oak tree in my in-laws’ garden, so I got to climbing! With the help of a local, surgical mask wearing, electrician and ensuring we maintained our two meter Covid distance, we fed an extension cable from the house up to the tree and finally I plugged everything in. Fingers crossed! Hey presto! It only worked!! I got 50mb/s upload and download! Even with antenna on the floor, but at least pointing in the right direction… things were looking good.

With a bit of tree pruning and better pointing of the antenna I managed to get 5 bars and, wait for it, 70mb/s download with 60mb/s upload. I bought myself a waterproof box to put the router in and attached to the fence at the base of the tree and now, I’m delighted to say that I have more than enough broadband to support multiple simultaneous video conferences from different parts of the house and uploading/downloading of large files and video streaming. So, after a bit of creative head scratching and out of the box thinking, we got there; just another day at the office where we’re used to looking at what’s needed and finding an innovative way of getting to the best solution; and do you know what, I paid for this awesome rural broadband in gold, using my Glint Card, 17.58 grams to be precise.

I hope you’re all safe and healthy and looking out for one another during these very difficult times. The entire Glint team has now been working from home for the last six weeks and I’m delighted to say, it has had no direct adverse impact (apart from the lack of human face to face interaction the world craves), there have been no changes in operations and gold remains the most stable way of investing our savings, as well as paying for broadband. I wish you all well and look forward to more regular chats in the future.

All the best, Jason.

Jason Cozens
CEO, Glint.