Burnside Telecom: Fixed Cellular Phones and Terminals

LANDLINE ALTERNATIVES

 

Burnside at a (very) remote location...

Built as a dwelling for gamekeepers and shepherds in the early 1800s, Skiddaw House is located on a 1500ft high plateau between Skiddaw and Blencathra mountains in the English Lake District. Described by Alfred Wainwright as being "At the back o'beyond...", the house is 3½ miles from the nearest road, has no mains electricity, no postal delivery and no landline telephone. Until 2002 the Youth Hostel Association ran the building. After a 5-year gap Skiddaw House has reopened to provide a simple and economical £10 a night lodging for walkers and cyclists.

The problem faced by the Skiddaw House Foundation Trust was how to operate a viable and successful hostel, given that no-one could book accommodation either by phone or by e-mail. British Telecom had quoted a prohibitive sum of £65,000 to install a landline some ten years before. Satellite phone communication costs are unaffordable. To make matters worse, not even mobile phones are able to work in such a remote location.

Fortunately a trustee came across the Burnside T940 Fixed Cellular Terminal [aka Premicell] on the Internet. Initial tests using an external aerial connected to the Burnside unit concluded that only the Vodafone GSM/GPRS network could provide reliable phone and data communications. The Burnside terminal was then fitted with a Vodafone SIM on a pay monthly tariff with a 120Mb web browsing pack.

An ordinary desktop phone and a PC connected via USB cable to the Burnside T940 now provide voice communication, Internet access, e-mail and SMS text messaging.

Since the Burnside unit can work from mains power or from 8-32VDC, the terminal is permanently powered by the hostel's DC batteries. These in turn are charged from a standby LPG-powered generator and trickle charged by solar cells.

 



Skiddaw House

Skiddaw House, in the shadow of Skiddaw Mountain