Thank you to the anonymous poster above for your support. Whilst I do agree with many of your sentiments, I do think they could have been put in a less aggressive manner. But again, thanks for the support.
I think I need to explain myself a little better here to try and bring this barrage of posts into a little more of a constructive thread that does indeed help and contribute better across the board.
My company, CommunityUK.net was started in 2009 as a result of a Community based project in Leigh Park in Hampshire that had been running for a year before. It actually only started trading over a year later, when the relationship with 5Miles was severed.
Apart from an initial chunk of funding from the E-Learning Foundation to get the project off the ground, we have driven the project forward ourselves without any further financial help, contributing our own time for free and an awful lot of my own money. Not one of the directors has received a salary since the project started. Such is our belief in what we are doing.
Yes we are a private Ltd company but we ARE one with a genuine social conscience and an absolute belief that a business can indeed grow, profit and generate wealth whilst STILL contributing to and supporting it's community.
I/We believe very strongly that access to technology and the internet is the absolute right of every member of any community regardless of financial capability, educational level or geographical location. I also believe that it should not be held to ransom by a few large organisations that continue to overprice everything about it and profit from a virtual monopoly.
Without consistent access to the internet and all the facilities it provides, our children will fall behind educationally even further than they are now. Average people will be denied access to the services they need to use and generally, we will continue to fall behind the rest of the world in our overall capabilities and competitiveness as we are now.
Overall, without this access, our society will degenerate further and we will continue to blindly follow the lead of the USA and other countries that deliver these facilities to their people in far better ways than we do and also encourage and applaud innovation and endeavour the way that we so clearly don't.
CommunityUK, I believe, is NOT just about a wireless broadband network. It is about our "Community Networking" concept and our strong Social ethos. We also believe that by building a business that exhibits the ability to generate honest profit and wealth for its owners and employees whilst genuinely, clearly and consistently contributing and giving back to the communities it works within is an example to many that should be attractive and inspiring.
I know that many of you will continue to doubt the sincerity of these statements. I/we are used to this and will not let it phase us or stop us doing what we do. If I said I do not care what you guys think, I would be a liar. Of course I do. I would like ALL of you to believe and support what we are trying to do. However, I know that the reality is that won't happen with anything but a few of you.
As I said, it will not stop us but I would far rather you maybe stepped back a little, tried not to judge me or CUK by totally negative but perhaps understandable standards set by others and gave us a chance and even a little support.
With regard to the progress we are making, I assure you it is genuine and real.
We have MET with Mike K at BDUK, we DO have genuine meaningful contact at DEFRA together with real support and belief at some very high levels. This is not just "name dropping" this is an attempt to show you we are genuine and this is all a result of long and hard work, lobbying and more. Not just a few phone calls.
We ARE engaged now in a strongly supported development strategy for CommunityUK that has real belief behind it and, on paper and in the minds of those behind it and beside it (organisations and individuals), the very strongest probability of success.
To succeed in anything but the mediocre, to really do great things, you MUST be prepared to take the flack you will get. The opposition and resistance from those who want to stop you has to be fought hard and you must have the stamina and belief to keep doing this. SImply put, nothing truly worthwhile is easy and I don't expect this to be. We will carry on driving towards the success both we and all the communities we work and will work with deserve.
Most importantly, we DO want to make the benefits of what we have been doing and achieving in these areas available to ALL who genuinely want to collaborate with us. We just do not have the time to waste revealing and discussing all our models and processes and approaches with this who clearly do not. Surely this is understandable?
I am not just trying to be "flippant" in any way or intentionally trying to upset or offend anyone. I am simply fighting my corner and protecting the interests of not just my company but the cause we are involved in.
Again and again I have stated here that we will be happy to disclose all that is necessary to any community or organisation that genuinely wishes to work with us. Yes we will ask for NDA's etc. where necessary but what sensible organisation would not?
We are attempting something that is somewhat radical and the many organisations that make huge sums of money from what we want to give freely away are going to oppose us in any way they can, regardless of how unpleasant, underhand or distasteful that may be. Do you guys really believe we do not expect that?
However, if we succeed in forcing this sea change in the way internet access is delivered and used, then many, many people, not to mention the UK as a whole will hugely benefit from it. As I said the effort is worth it.
As to our Wireless networks, I fully understand the feelings of those industry experts who visit here and indeed many of their doubts.
The simple fact is, I and CUK genuinely believe in the capabilities of Wireless Technology in the delivery of internet access. Both in what it can do now and what it will be able to do in the future as the technology continues to progress.
To me, it is clear that so many communities in the UK are currently digitally excluded (be that through geography or finance) when they do not need to be because a cost effective wireless solution and the distribution of overpriced bandwidth cheaply or freely is seen so negatively.
If you are a genuine exponent of Wireless solutions (which I presume most of you are) and understand the economics and ACTUAL current bandwidth needs of the average individual, then you already know I am talking sense. You know we do not need complicated technical "Rocket Science" to make it work. Get these solutions into communities that need them NOW and freely if possible.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, we are already releasing something in the region of £30000 per month back into the pockets of the residents of Leigh Park who use our system. This means that instead of lining the pockets of BT, Virgin etc. and their shareholders, these people can spend money in local shops and businesses and help regenerate their own community. By the time we have finished there, this could be in the region of £250,000 per month. Imagine the impact of that in an area where shops are closing, people are out of work and self belief and belief in their community and the UK is at a huge low??
I am sure someone clever will remark something like "more money for them to buy drugs, booze etc. with" or something like that. We know you will so do not bother. I can tell you from long personal experience that Leigh Park and communities like it are absolutely brimming with genuine, law abiding ad indeed inspirational people (i.e. Louise Austin's earlier post) that will use this money very well indeed.
Regardless of the cynicism shown here, our Wireless networks are genuinely working and have been built in such a way that upgrading and enhancing to newer, faster more powerful Wireless technologies will be straightforward when required. Why would anyone actually want to knock this. If you do not believe, give me a call and I will arrange to personally take you round Leigh Park, see and experience our service and even meet some of the people it is helping. Is that not fair enough?
As to me personally. I have had an eventful career that has been punctuated by both great success and some failures. I hope I have learned from both. Now as MD of CUK I devote my whole time to this project and the little I have left to other community activities such as being a STEM Ambassador in Schools (see STEMNET.org.uk), working with the Havant Children's University, supporting Havant Women's Aid, acting as a Business Mentor for Headteachers in Portsmouth Schools, working on the Shaping the Future of Portsmouth Project and a few other things. I can promise you I genuinely try my best to be as "community-centred" as I can be.
I hope that this somewhat longwinded missive, if you have taken the time to read it (thank you if you have) can go some way to at least making you all think a little better of CUK and what we are trying to do and perhaps encourage some of you to cease your constant, wholly unwarranted attacks and instead maybe engage in a more productive and constructive way that will benefit us all.
Bye for now