Broadband internet and satellite TV in East Wichel

Over recent months we have received several queries about satellite TV in East Wichel, usually specifically about arrangements for receiving Sky TV in Wichelstowe. What follows is our understanding, based on the East Wichel design codes, house purchase contracts we have seen, and statements made by Swindon Borough Council at East Wichel Community Partnership meetings.

The main television transmitter for the Swindon area is at Blunsdon in north Swindon. Reception from there is weak in East Wichel, and the signals are obstructed by the ridge of land at Old Town and Okus. To overcome this, the whole of East Wichel is provided with fibre-optic-cabled TV and radio. This is fed from a mast near Croft Road, which receives and boosts the signal from, amongst others, the Mendip transmitter.

Under contract to the site developers (originally Taylor Wimpey and Swindon Borough Council, but now just Taylor Wimpey) the fibre optic cabling was installed by iNexus Group. Telephone and broadband internet through the cables are supplied by Seethelight, a trading name of iNexus Group company Independent Service Provider Limited. TV and radio is supplied by Fibre to the Home Limited, trading as FTTH. They charge an annual fee (£15.60 in 2012). As yet, no other companies, such as BT, have been licenced to provide services over iNexus Group’s network in East Wichel.

In part because of this wholesale provision of cable TV and radio, and also for aesthetic reasons, the East Wichel Design Code forbids external aerials and satellite dishes. This is enforced through planning permisions and property law. So properties sold by the commercial house builders in East Wichel include restrictive covenants forbidding external aerials and dishes, and houses rented by Sovereign Housing include the restrictions in the tenancy agreements. Such restrictions are not unprecedented — Harlow New Town, built from the 1950s, has similar restrictions.

It is quite common for the telecommunications network in large new housing developments to be provided by small independent companies. However, the combination of that with poor terrestrial TV reception and planning restrictions on external aerials and dishes is unusual.

You may see a few satellite dishes in East Wichel, but earlier in 2012 Swindon Borough Council stated that they intend to enforce the planning restrictions and get these removed. Note that it is the responsibility of the house owner or tenant to ensure that they comply with the regulations; it is not the responsibility of the satellite dish installers.

In summary options for TV and radio reception in East Wichel are limited to either taking the service from FTTH, or installing an aerial or dish inside your house in the loft space. Any property owner or tenant installing an aerial or satellite dish outside may be subject to legal enforcement action from the council to get them removed.