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South West Rural Communities Celebrate Broadband Milestone

South West Rural Communities Celebrate Broadband Milestone

Thousands of the South West’s most rural homes and businesses are looking forward to a faster future thanks to the arrival of high-speed broadband. Openreach, the UK’s largest telephone and broadband network, announced today that more than 100,000 premises across the UK are now part of its Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) scheme.

More than 12,000 of them are from the South West, and broadband champions from across the region – including Axbridge in Somerset, Bath, Hockworthy in Devon and the Wiltshire communities of Kellaways and Bremhill Wick – recently celebrated the milestone at the House of Commons.

Openreach’s CFP scheme involves the company splitting the cost of installing faster broadband with the local community. In many cases, the local contribution can be entirely covered by broadband vouchers, such as the Government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme*.

David Pippett, helped to create a partnership between between Openreach and the small West Wiltshire village of Avoncliff – providing all 43 residents, including nine small businesses, with full fibre broadband and some of the fastest available speeds in the country.

David, who runs his own PR agency ProServ PR, said: “This is going to transform the whole village. There’s a number of small businesses based here and most of them, including myself, work from home for all or part of the week, so having this future-proof broadband technology in the village will be a game changer.”

“Slow broadband speeds can turn running a business into a bit of juggling act. On one occasion I had to email sixty reports to the media for a client which ended up taking so long from home, I drove to my local Sainsbury’s and connected to 4G from my laptop in the car park instead!

“Doing business online is now the norm and no business can really survive that well without it. As the online world continues to grow – we’ll now be able to grow with it.

Ex-professional Triathlete Mark Threlfall, lives in Avoncliff and works in Bath as a presenter for YouTube based online broadcaster Global Triathlon Network. Mark says that having ultrafast broadband fed directly to his home will be a game changer for the way he works.

Mark said: “Both myself and my partner Cassie work from home during the week and the broadband is a major issue when we’re both online trying to work – one of us will end up crashing the system. Everything just slows down to a standstill. She’s dealing with clients online so that’s frustrating.

“I spend a lot of time researching online – looking at other videos for inspiration and ideas or trying to find background information. Currently it just takes a lifetime to load anything.

“I’d love to have the flexibility to work from home more and having the faster broadband would give me the freedom to do that. It would mean I could do more of the filming or editing away from the office which would be awesome. You could upload the footage onto the server straight away – without having to travel into the office, that would be amazing.

“People buy into us as a channel and as presenters – so keeping up to date with followers on social media is an important part of what I do – uploading photos and videos to things like Instagram. We build a community on our channel so we’re expected to comment on all our videos – people leave us questions, so being able to respond quickly to people’s questions or leave comment is really important. Having fibre broadband will make will mean I do all that without any worry.”

Openreach is using a mix of technologies to deliver the CFP programme, but primarily the latest ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology providing broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps. That’s enough bandwidth for a family of four to all stream ultra HD or 4k quality movies or TV simultaneously, without waiting or buffering.

Once Openreach has installed the infrastructure, residents can place an order for the new faster services with a provider of their choice. Openreach provides the telephone and broadband network used by the likes of Sky, BT and TalkTalk. So people are still able to choose from a range of broadband products and packages – they are not restricted to just one supplier.

Across the UK, 930 communities have now signed up to the CFP programme, which is available to communities not included in any current roll-out plans for high speed broadband or to those who have fibre broadband but want even faster speeds. Already 590 of those are now connected to fibre broadband.

A recent independent report estimates the scheme generates, on average, around £800,000 of benefits to each community. And that having fibre broadband available increases the value of the average property by around £1,700.[1]

Matthew Galley, Senior Contract Manager (West) for Openreach, said:

“There are many examples across the South West of how Openreach’s UK-wide Community Fibre Partnership programme is bringing fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas where broadband providers struggle to upgrade alone.

“Our ambition is to ‘never say no’ to any community that wants fibre broadband connectivity – we’ll work with any community to find a way forward and we hope that this scheme will encourage even more communities to work with us.”

Openreach’s commitment to the region extends far beyond making faster broadband available. More than 3,300 of our people live and work in the South West. Earlier this year, we also announced that the team is expanding even further with more than 440 new fibre engineers due to be recruited during the next 12 months.

The success of the Community Fibre Partnership scheme is a further boost for the South West, where more than 94 per cent of homes and businesses can already access fibre broadband with speeds of 30Mbps and above.

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