North Lincolnshire Homes has expanded its innovative broadband service (see Housing Technology, March 2012) into a successful commercial proposition with the launch of the Diamond-Net service for its own tenants, private customers and local businesses. Housing Technology interviewed Mike Eckersley, head of ICT at North Lincolnshire Homes and one of founders of the new initiative.
Who is the Diamond-Net service for?
Diamond-Net is for anyone who wants it. We offer a special package for social housing tenants which is affordable and has only a three-month commitment, but we also have products for private residents and businesses offering up to 50Mbps at very competitive prices.
What’s the geographic coverage?
At the moment, we can offer the service in Scunthorpe and the surrounding area, but our plan is to offer the service to other housing providers who will be able to use their own property assets to site the necessary base stations and provide the service to their tenants while also generating revenue from businesses and private residents that they can plough back into the community as we are doing in Scunthorpe.
What is the business plan for Diamond-Net?
We have a standalone model for Scunthorpe which aims to attract over 2,000 customers in this area. As described above we intend to market the service to other housing organisations across the UK and we have already had several enquiries to demonstrate the service.
How much are you charging for the service?
The cost for NLH tenants is just £13.99 per month for our ‘Lite’ package which includes free installation, up to around £30 per month for our most comprehensive ‘Enhanced’ package.
As well as NLH, which other companies are behind the service?
Diamond-Net is the ISP and UK Broadband has built and operates the backhaul network.
What are the technical details of the service?
The service is 4G LTE and offers up to 50Mbps. It is provided from two sites on top of our high-rise flats in Scunthorpe which broadcast to an indoor modem in the customer’s house. This modem then allows wired or wi-fi access to the internet. We intend to offer an outdoor receiver later in the year for customers outside the indoor coverage area. It is anticipated that we will have a Mi-Fi type device available during the first quarter of next year.
Do you have any customers yet?
In the two weeks [at the time of writing] since the launch on 1 August 2012, we have 68 happy customers installed and running. Comments received from them on our Facebook page are all very positive. These customers are mainly NLH tenants, but we have a few private and business customers too.