Paul Ockenden made some interesting comments in his regular Mobile and Wireless column in PC Pro this month about how estate agents, and even the online sites are not keeping up with some of the demands for certain sorts of information. I’ve commented previously about the inaccuracy of the searches, although I’ve got round them by having multiple searches for each individual area, so I won’t comment on that further. However Paul highlights another issue I’ve encountered, finding information about the broadband availability.
At this point I should mention firstly, that broadband speeds are affected by distance, so in terms of a regular BT connection, you could get 8Meg broadband if you lived close to an exchange, but someone living a long way could only get 0.5Meg. Our current house is in a relatively small village, a few miles outside Reading, and we have a Reading phone number, so many people could conclude that we have slow broadband. However that is incorrect, as the village has it’s own telephone exchange. Whilst having the small exchange meant a long wait for broadband to be enabled, when it came, it was fast. We live on the opposite side of the village from the exchange, and the connection runs at 8Meg.
It transpires things are a bit different in Finchampstead, where although the exchange was enabled early, the exchange itself is in Eversley, as a result the various bits of the village vary between 3Meg, down as far as 0.5Meg for some properties we’ve looked at. It has to be said that currently this makes them decidedly less attractive as potential places to move.
Anyway, over the past couple of days, I’d been looking for details of the location of the Eversley exchange, and Paul’s article pointed to a great site that I hadn’t come across at www.samknows.com. The site includes a whole raft of information on broadband, including a fantastic availability checker that shows the cable and various flavours of broadband over phone line availability. It also has a section detailing each exchange which includes location maps. This page has the map for our local exchange at Arborfield, which also clearly shows the issue with Finchampstead, where the bulk of the housing sits almost equidistant from the exchanges at Arborfield, Wokingham and Eversley. It also easily allows you to spot other villages in the area that may have trouble with fast broadband – a great resource for guiding a local house search.
Having said that, none of the local agents seem aware of this. I’m mentioning it when we show people around here, as for at least some of the people who would be interested in a house like this, and in this area, broadband is important. Of the three viewings so far, we’ve had one who was an IT consultant, and another who spoted our Sky+, and whose face positively lit up when I mentioned the speed of the broadband.
So if you’re in the market for a new house, and broadband speeds concern you, I’d certainly suggest taking a look at www.samknows.com for any house or area you’re considering.