Back o’ beyond gets a phone service

England’s most remote building Skiddaw House, described by Alfred Wainwright as being “at the back o’ beyond” has found a solution to its telecom problems. The house stands on a 1500ft high plateau between Skiddaw and Blencathra, three and a half miles from the nearest road, with no mains electricity, postal delivery, landline telephone, or mobile phone handset coverage. The problem facing Skiddaw House was how to operate as a viable hostel when no-one could contact it by phone or email to book accommodation. Fortunately, someone discovered the Burnside desktop mobile, and initial tests using an external aerial showed that the Vodafone GSM/GPRS network could provide reliable phone and data access. An ordinary desktop telephone and a PC connected to the Burnside unit now provide voice communication and internet access. And, since the Burnside unit can operate from a low voltage DC supply, the terminal is permanently powered by the hostel’s batteries, which in turn are charged from solar cells and a standby LPG-powered generator.

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