February 2017 Update

For reference – BT superfast broadband installations use a system called Fibre-To-The-Cabinet. BT use very fast fibre optic connections to roadside cabinets, you can recognise these cabinets as they have louvres on the front. Premises are connected to the cabinets using existing telephone wires. If these wires are less than 1 Km in length then superfast broadband of UP TO 24Mbps (Megabits per second) is possible. If you are 1.5 Km from the cabinet then speeds of UP TO 15 Mbps are possible. anything more than 1.5 Km you lose the will to live which is the position that most of us are in. A further complication is that almost all of the rural telephone connections in this area connect directly into one of the 3 telephone exchanges and communicate over wires that can be several kilometres in length. Most of the alternative broadband suppliers such as Sky, TalkTalk, and Plusnet use the BT network which they rent through Openreach. Few customers get the maximum speed quoted.  Given these constraints BT have no technology to deliver superfast broadband in this area.

Our team have been researching a number of methods to provide superfast and ultrafast broadband into a rural area such as ours.

Connecting all homes in our area directly with fibre optic cables would allow speeds of 1,000 Mbps but would cost over £3.5 million to deliver. We could not find finance for a proposal of this magnitude and let’s face it unless you’re planning to edit the next version of Star Wars online you don’t really need these speeds.

On a more realistic level the scheme which we have been looking at, and hope to start delivering soon, uses wireless communication pioneered on the Isle of Arran. This scheme uses aerials on tall buildings, such as St Catherine’s Church, or aerials on thin 15 metre high masts which communicate with aerials on your house.  Every connected property will be able to get 20 Mbps, many will be able to get 100 Mbps.

As existing BT telephone wires will not be used for connecting these services into your homes a connection charge will be incurred.  For those homes with the slowest connections there are grants available to cover most of these costs. As we are a Community Initiative we will ensure that costs will be competitive and the quality of service very HIGH.

We have received some money from Basingstoke Council and have submitted an application for further funding. Most of the cost of our system will need to be met by local investment. The first phase of our project will need to raise about £75,000, to this end we are planning to put together a tax efficient package that we expect to offer attractive rates of return for investors.

As I’m sure you are all aware the value of homes connected with superfast broadband generally increases, homes in the Cotswolds typically saw increases in value of up to 5% when they were connected. Couple this with the ability to work from home, use the internet as freely as those in the cities and all without the commuting and pollution of urban life it’s a bit of a no brainer (but then we know this already don’t we?).

Our next update is expected around the end of March. If all goes well our first connections could be by the Summer of this year.

Please share this information with everyone in the area and encourage them to register, using this link, to receive superfast broadband.

To consider investing or if you have any further questions please email martin.slatford@gmail.com