Penallt mast - AB Internet go into Administration

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23rd May 2017
AB Internet Statement

Following recent network outages and in order to best preserve the connectivity to all our clients, on the 18th of April AB Internet served formal notification of its intent to place the company into administration with an aim to sell the company as a going concern, either as a whole, or, as a number of separate and logical geographic elements and so transfer our customers seamlessly to a new network operator.

Any potential purchasers should contact AB Internet’s appointed Administrators, James Patchett and Martin Armstrong of Turpin Barker Armstrong by email to administrators@abinternet.co.uk .

Spectrum Internet, which is a separate ISP with some infrastructure in the same regions, has issued the following comment: “[We] are sorry to hear the news regarding AB Internet and the distress this may be causing customers. We have been made aware of the situation only recently. Spectrum does have considerable networking assets within the South Wales area and we are actively looking to see if there is anything we can do to help and potentially maintain the network in Monmouthshire and South Wales.

We are happy to hear from customers and stakeholders to identify the most urgent needs. At this stage if anyone would like to discuss the matter further please email us enquiries@spectruminternet.com as we will be sending out further updates via email as well.”


13th December 2016
The mast was erected by the end of March and was initially powered by a standalone generator on a temporary basis. Since then, the mast has been out of operation as no permanent solution to the power supply problem could be found.

Today we learn that "AB Internet ... have had engineers on site since yesterday and the issues with the mast will be sorted by the end of this week."


Adapted from Monmouthshire Beacon article of 6th January 2016
The proposed 30 metre high telecommunication tower in Penallt was approved by Monmouthshire County Council’s (MCC) planning department at its meeting on Tuesday 5th July.

Councillor Debby Blakebrough said: “The main issue of this application is that the site of the mast is in a sensitive area. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty and is an area we rely on for our tourism.

The other love of my life however is connectability and ensuring rural areas are not left behind. With this superfast scheme one of the main frustrations among residents is lack of broadband.

The benefits of the scheme clearly outweigh the visual impact on the area. On balance I can’t find any legitimate planning consideration to reject this application.”

Councillor Blakeborough gives a much more detailed account of the meeting and its background here.

Councillor David Dovey also offered his support for the mast. He said: “In other communities we have been campaigning for better broadband in this county. We have the opportunity here to improve it significantly. The occupation of the towers is driven by technology.

It will bring great benefits to Monmouthshire and to the people who enjoy the benefit of tourism, it’s not very good when you’ve got a bed and breakfast in a rural area where people can’t get the internet to work”.


Penallt 30m internet mast is ‘not the best solution’ warns AONB

Adapted from Monmouthshire Beacon article of 30th December 2015
PLANS for a 30 metre high telecommunication tower in Penallt are to be discussed on 5th January by county council planners in Usk, where a final decision will be made.

The application for planning has been recommended for approval by Trellech United Community Council, who stated that: “Councillors recognised that the scheme had the potential to offer benefit to Monmouthshire residents; and noted that the visual impact statement suggested no serious impact.

MCC has received correspondence from a number of Penallt residents who question the application. They suggest that there is not a commercial case for a wireless broadband solution of this scale in the village, and that there will be very few who will benefit from this encroachment into the landscape within the AONB.

There also appears to be some dispute from the AONB with regard to the application. One officer said in a document submitted to the council: “It does not adequately seek to address the conservation and enhancement of the unique character and special qualities of the landscape.

“We recognise that mobile phones and broadband have revolutionised modern life and that the topography and rurality of the AONB means that coverage is not consistent. However, in the aspiration to reach comprehensive high speed broadband coverage, the balance has to be reached so that the valley sides don’t end up bristling with masts to achieve this,” they added.

“The AONB Management Plan suggests that masts should use optimum designs or involve innovative solutions, such as incorporation in church towers or farm buildings, which when accompanied by adequate landscaping where appropriate, minimises the landscape impacts in the AONB.

“It is stated a number of times in the application documents that the site has been chosen as having the least landscape and visual impact to meet the topographic requirements which would enable this technology to function effectively.

“However, we failed to find any information within the application documents to demonstrate which alternative sites had been considered and why this is the most appropriate site for the development. It is not clear what alternative designs or mitigation measures have been considered which result in this being the optimum solution.”


21st November 2015
Residents were invited to participate in a ‘drop in’ session with AB Internet on 16 November, hosted by our County Councillor, Debby Blakebrough. In the event, AB Internet chose to give a presentation, which triggered a great deal of discussion between them and the representatives of around ten households who were present. The over-riding concern of residents present was the visual impact of a 30.5m mast on a prominent hill-top in the AONB.

As well as being widely visible from the north and west, it will also be more closely visible from properties in Pen-y-Garn. There were also questions about the extent to which local residents would benefit. AB Internet were unable to provide information on which areas of Penallt - and more generally Trellech United - were included in the 1600 properties they have to service, and which areas were within reach of the mast without the installation of repeaters. They gave an oral commitment to work closely with residents to maximise coverage in the area. Attendees at the meeting were unconvinced that there were no alternatives to this site, and some expressed the view that they would rather forego better broadband than have the proposed mast erected.

After this meeting, the representatives of AB Internet attended a meeting of Trellech United Community Council to answer questions about their planning application. The council’s recommendation follows:-

"01331, Penallt, Near Pen y Garn Farm, 30.5m telecoms mast to enable superfast broadband. (This item was considered at the end of the meeting, after Neil Tucker of AB Systems had spoken.) Councillors recognised that the scheme had the potential to offer benefit to Monmouthshire residents; and noted that the visual impact statement suggested no serious impact. They felt however that the application included insufficient details of exactly which areas would benefit from the scheme. Where exactly are the "white areas"? Ideally a map should be included to articulate this clearly. It was also important that the AONB be consulted. Recommend approval but with this request for a map to be provided. Two councillors voted against this motion because they supported the application without any proviso; one of the two councillors abstaining was of the same opinion."

Draft TUCC minutes are available here.

Next steps
Debby Blakebrough will ensure that the Wye Valley AONB are invited to comment on the planning application for the mast. Any resident who wishes to object or comment on the application should do so. The details are here.

If at least five objections are received the objectors will be permitted to appoint one of themselves to address the planning committee meeting at which the application is considered.


9th November 2015
AB Internet Ltd is a wireless Internet Service Provider that has thousands of customers connected to Superfast infrastructure around the United Kingdom. They have been contracted by the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport to supply super-fast rural broadband to a number of areas in Monmouthshire, where no alternative options are available in the area. This will greatly improve the users’ online experience, as they will be able to communicate effectively; businesses will enjoy better connectivity with their customers and will have access to online services that will improve their efficiency.

In order to bring connectivity into the area they would like to install a 30.5m lightweight lattice tower near to The Craig in Penallt. This tower will host six radios, two of which will receive connectivity from existing infrastructure, and the remaining four will broadcast the signal to the surrounding area to connect customers. No public access will need to be created for this site, and this site will remain unmanned.

A lightweight structure has been chosen for the lattice tower, as it will have less impact on the surrounding area. The site has also been chosen so that it will have minimum impact on the view from nearby residential areas. The tower will sit on a concrete plinth approximately 5m x 5m and is enclosed with a 2m fence giving a total footprint on the land of around 5m x 5m.

The location of the tower has been chosen to cover the areas that are without broadband connectivity, as identified by a DCM&S project published in February this year. As noted above, these are areas in which there is no alternative option available to both residential and business users. The map extract below shows in pink the approximate area covered (line of sight to the mast is needed). The mast is shown by a dark blue triangle.