About Oxford Film and TV
Oxford Film and TV is an independent TV production company, based in Camden. Commissioned by organisations including the BBC, Channel 4, ITV, HBO and Discovery, Oxford Film and TV produces a wide range of documentaries and drama from Simon Sharma and David Starkey history programmes to Kings of Black Comedy, ‘Our Queen’ for ITV’s diamond jubilee programming, and Alan Davies’ Teenage Revolution.
With a permanent staff of 16, Oxford relies heavily on freelance specialists to boost the team during production phases. At times the office hosts more than 40 people, with others working remotely from home.
In 2014, Oxford Film and TV was due to move office, something that had been on the radar for two years. The company found a new location with seven months still in hand for the significant internal renovation required, and Production Manager Marisa Erftemeijertook on the management of the relocation project. She comments:
“We were advised by our Chartered Surveyor to start the process of getting our required Fibre line installed immediately. He warned us it can be very slow but BT advised us that it should be installed within three months. Well, three months came and went and there was no sign of the Fibre installation happening anytime soon.”
Oxford made the decision to postpone its move for a month. The company relied upon its internet connection to regularly send big files (3-4GB on average) to clients for review –sometimes around 10 large files a day. The internet connectivity was going to be even more crucial in the new office than the old, as the company was also going to be using a Voice over IP service from Opus Networks, and it was simply not possible to plan to move the team without connectivity.
Erftemeijercontinues, “Opus contacted BT on our behalf to try to find out where things had got to, but as we reached just over a week until our rescheduled moving date we urgently needed a Plan B. We had to move out of our old office, but we had to go to somewhere with connectivity so we could continue to work.”
Erftemeijerand the team at Opus Networks began to look into all the options available to Oxford Film and TV. A temporary office would be incredibly costly, cause a lot of disruption –both to staff morale and clients –and double the moving costs. It was not going to be a popular suggestion. So Opus began to suggest alternative technologies to Fibre.
Erftemeijerlooked into satellite broadband and contacted a lot of providers but was concerned that the technology could be adversely affected by the weather and it was November –with snow forecast. By sheer luck, one of the technical team at Opus Networks had heard of Luminet and its fixed wireless technology.
“I contacted them at about 5.30 in the afternoon, probably with a discernable note of panic in my voice!” confesses Erftemeijer.“Andrew at Luminet was great. He was both reassuring about the company and technology and also honest about his own concerns that we were potentially going to be too far away to help. He explained that the fixed wireless needs a direct line-of-sight connection from the rooftop and it would all depend on what tall buildings were between the base station and our new office.”
Two days later, once the landlord had granted access to the roof, the Luminet team was on sight to survey the possibilities. Perhaps because Oxford Film and TV were due some good luck, the ideal spot on the roof just cleared the building in front to provide direct line-of-sight, and the connection became possible.
With this reassurance, the Luminet engineers returned to their own office to run a few distance tests and were able to provide a quote and service offer that very evening.
With three days to go until moving in day, Luminet arrived at Oxford Film and TV’s new office to install the fixed wireless kit on the roof and get the 100Mbps service live. With the network up and running, Opus Networks made the necessary adaptations to its service in order that it could work over a new kind of network type –one which they had never run over before, and the back-up line was added to the infrastructure.
Erftemeijer comments, “I confess I got a bit nervous at one point because everyone went very quiet, but the three systems were up and running by the end of that day and immediately worked seamlessly.”
Oxford Film and TV had not known for how long they would need to rely upon Luminet’s network as their Fibre line installation was still looking uncertain. In the end, the company used the connection for just over a month before the Fibre line was ready to take over.
Erftemeijer again, “Luminet was so flexible, in a way I guess larger suppliers cannot be. The people I dealt with were able to make decisions on the spot and they were incredibly tolerant of the fact that I didn’t actually know how long we would need the service. In the end I think we even slightly overran our month subscription because of a last minute Fibre issue, but I never felt like I had a gun to my head and they were happy to do whatever we needed to get out of our scrape.”
As for user feedback on the whole episode, Erftemeijeris matter of fact; “To be honest, I don’t think anyone noticed when we switched over to the Fibre. When it came down to it, the Luminet connection had been marginally faster anyway so by the time our much-promised high speed network arrived from BT there was no fanfare and user expectations were already set.”
Erftemeijerconcludes, “I would absolutely recommend Luminet, in fact I already have –as, I understand, has our Chartered Surveyor and Opus! They got us out of a huge bind, as well as taking a lot of pain out of a very stressful episode. Occasionally we need to rent additional offices for short term periods on large productions so, I’m sure, Luminet will certainly get another call from us the next time we do that. I am also very interested in the possibilities for using the network for outside broadcast instead of satellite broadband as it is about ten times more reliable. I shall be interested to talk more with Luminet about that one!”
Summary of key benefits:
- 100MB Fibre replacement installed within a week.
- Flexibility in contract terms to provide seamless interim solution.
- Ten times more reliable than satellite broadband.
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