Coventry Meeting goes Hi-Tech – nearly (update)

Pete Duckworth of Coventry Quakers provides the next chapter in their saga of getting online:

I happened to go to the Meeting House garden for private prayer on Sunday morning..

I  was surprised & pleased to discover two vans of contractors & clever machines replacing the two telephone poles on behalf of Openreach. See the photos below.

Typically BT haven’t told me this despite our ongoing complaint.We still aren’t connected nor do we have  a date for this but its a very promising step forward…

The story so far

Check the photo at the top of this article carefully, it reveals why Coventry Quaker Meeting is not yet online.

Coventry Meeting was an early adopter of Zoom. Friends here have valued being able to meet together and break through the boundaries of lockdown to connect in those things that are eternal. There have been down sides for many of us with intermittent internet connections, confusion over the application in its various incarnations, lack of technology and lack of technical ability. However by and large helping each other along with a helping hand we got through. I now can’t remember the last time anyone had to be told “ You’re on Mute”! There have been upsides – no need to travel to Meeting, Friends who have moved away can worship with us again, using two machines I even took part in worship with Coventry & Monkseaton Local Meetings at the same time!

Eventually though the possibility of returning to the Meeting House emerged.Having been made aware of the Woodbrooke document on blended worship. Coventry Meeting decided to adopt the blended approach.

You may be aware that as Treasure I’m on the Premesis &Finance Committee of Coventry Meeting. Friends are probably not be aware that in addition to my Degree in American Studies I actually poses a Masters Degree in Telecommunications Technology. That was 20 years ago (which is a long time in IT) and didn’t cover teleconferencing even as it was back then. However I do still have some connections so agreed to look at the situation with one such ex-colleague. We came up with detailed technical proposals which have since been expanded to cover revamping our ageing Audio Loop system.

With naive goodwill, having checked websites to ensure the Meeting House is covered by the various suppliers I contacted Virgin Media. They couldn’t talk to me as apparently were a “Business Customer”. No worries I booked a virtual appointment phone call with Business sales, they never phoned back. I think I discovered why it turns out they don’t in fact operate in our part of Hill St. No worries on to BT, they don’t offer fibre in Hill St but, no worries they can supply ADSL. Phone line will need to be supplied.

Detail of meeting house photo: a telegraph pole, showing signs of wear and tear.

Next week the Router arrived (BT provides the industry best – allegedly). Couple of weeks on, a BT Openreach engineer arrived, drilled through a wall behind the cupboard. Wired us up internally. However he just needed to connect this to the pole. No worries there’s one, with capacity in the Meeting House front garden (see picture).

This beauty was, we’ve been informed, erected in the late 1930’s. This pole survived the very keen attention of Hitler’s Luftwaffe and the ravages of more than 80 years. Few of us could say that. Sadly though it is now too fragile to be safely climbed by an Openreach engineer. Many of us could say that!

No worries there’s another nearby off popped the engineer only to report that this is full. This deer Friends is why we cannot go online. No date for a replacement pole yet. Sigh.

No worries, a keen eyed Friend spotted an Openreach van working nearby and chatted to the engineers and fibre is to be put down Hill St by them “in a couple of months”. Stay tuned…