Fastershire Rollout Update
Phase 1 of the Fastershire strategy has enabled 34,166 premises in Herefordshire to access a broadband connection greater than 30Mbps across with the project is now working to build on what has already been achieved. This is additional to the premises enabled in parts of Hereford, Leominster and Ledbury as BT’s own investment programme.
Phase 2 – Gigaclear
The project has now published the indicative build timescales for communities in the phase 2 rollout areas and individual residents can now use the Fastershire website address checker to see when work is likely to start in their area – www.fastershire.com
The rollout in these areas will be delivered by Gigaclear, who specialise in connecting rural communities and will install a brand new fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband network providing access to speeds up to 1000Mbps. The network build within a community could can take up to a year to complete, however, individual properties will be able to order a service as soon as their property is reached. By the end of this rollout Fastershire will have enabled over 95% of Herefordshire properties.
Through the Fastershire project Herefordshire along with Gloucestershire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin authorities have developed a £4.5m business broadband grant exclusively for businesses that have yet to access superfast broadband and are not in plan to receive access.
Grants of up to £25,000 of EU funding are available to access faster broadband and businesses can use the Fastershire website address checker to see if a business grant is an option – www.fastershire.com.
Viable Clusters Broadband Project
For some of those properties in Herefordshire that are not in plan for phase 2 and are yet to receive access to faster broadband, Fastershire has bid to secure more funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) to extend superfast broadband further.
The project identified a number of viable property ‘clusters’ that could use this funding to provide superfast broadband and stage 4 of the Fastershire Broadband Strategy will be delivered in partnership with Gloucestershire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
As soon as the funding is confirmed, Fastershire will seek to engage a supplier or suppliers to deliver this rollout.
The project has contacted those councillors directly whose areas are hoped to benefit from this funding.
For properties that are not in plan for phase 2 and do not form a viable cluster, the Fastershire project will explore the option of extending existing provider contracts to reach them. This will be subject to a value for money test unique to each property. Residents can help identify their properties for this process by using the Fastershire website address – www.fastershire.com.
Better Broadband Scheme
The Better Broadband Scheme, developed by the UK government is still available for those eligible properties with a download capacity below 2Mbps and are not included in plans to provide faster broadband.
The scheme will provide an eligible household or business with a unique ordering code that will cover most of the installation cost of a basic broadband service (up to £350) and aims to provide access to speeds of at least 2Mbps.
Advice for residents
Information about all elements of the Fastershire rollout can be found on the project’s website and individuals should use the Fastershire website address checker for updates – www.fastershire.com.
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