Case Studies | 8 May 2018 - by Ian Midgley
Elizabethan Hall steps into the 21st century with Lightstream broadband
Burton Constable gets a very 21st century upgrade with the installation of KCOM’s ultrafast Lightstream broadband.
Every era has its great technological leaps forward – and Burton Constable Hall has always been on the cusp of great innovation.
When the main body of the Elizabethan hall was built in the 1560s its owner, Sir John Constable, wanted it to serve as an opulent symbol of his family’s wealth and power; with its great hall and turreted gatehouse leaving visitors in no doubt this was one of Yorkshire’s most stately of stately homes.
And now Burton Constable is undergoing another great leap forward. The 16th century gem is about to get a very 21st century upgrade with the installation of KCOM’s ultrafast Lightstream broadband.
Burton Constable Foundation director Susan Hopkinson said KCOM’s technology, which is replacing the hall’s “radio broadband” with faster and more stable full fibre Lightstream, is helping to ensure this historic gem will remain a major tourist attraction for many more years to come.
She said: “The introduction of Lightstream at Burton Constable is bringing us into the 21st Century – we will be able to fulfil many of our back-room functions with greater speed and efficiency – everything from processing our memberships to selling gifts in the shop.
“We are particularly looking forward to moving our telephone system over to SmartComms UC. This will give us so much more flexibility and, more importantly, to provide a better service to our visitors.
“Burton Constable has the most amazing collection of scientific instruments from the 18th Century – collected by William Constable. They were at the very cutting edge of scientific discovery – I think he would have been very impressed at the thought of fibre broadband coming to Burton Constable.”
With up to 1Gbps speeds, full fibre technology and Smart Comms connectivity Burton Constable will soon be making its presence felt online like never before.
But the process of installing a wide array of Wi-Fi and fibre optic cable into such stately surroundings offered up a myriad of challenges for KCOM’s engineering teams.
“It was never going to be easy installing new technology to such an important historic site,” says Susan.
“We’ve had to liaise with Natural England in order to bring the fibre optic cable through the Grade II listed Capability Brown parkland. All the problems associated with that had to be resolved before working out how to hard wire the system in a Grade I listed Elizabethan mansion. But we’re pleased with how sympathetically KCOM’s engineers have dealt with the surroundings and the issues they had to overcome.”
The new fibre infrastructure will open up a whole range for new opportunities for the hall and its guests – including the ability to host corporate conferences and virtual reality tours of harder to access parts of the hall for disabled visitors.
“We’re upgrading our internet access and extending it to cover new areas of the hall and stables,” says Susan.
“We will at long last have Wi-Fi in the Great Hall which will enable visitors to download apps to enable them to access information about the collections and to go on to social media to let everyone know what a wonderful time they’ve had here.
“We’re very excited to be introducing a virtual tour of Burton Constable. This is particularly relevant to visitors who are unable to access the first floor of the Hall because of mobility problems – they will be able to tour the first floor from the comfort of the Great Hall.”
The installation of Lightstream at Burton Constable is a legacy of the Radio One Big Weekend festival which saw 50,000 music lovers descend on the hall’s grounds to watch stars such as Katy Perry, Little Mix and Kings of Leon perform live.
KCOM provided the fibre technology which enabled the BBC to simulcast the star-studded event live on Radio 1, iPlayer, online and on BBC Four.