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Increased grant seals superfast deal in Devon

Thursday 24th August, 2017

Increased grant seals superfast deal in Devon

Residents of two Devon villages have agreed a partnership with Openreach for the roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband.

About 160 households in Hockworthy and Holcombe Rogus will next year get access to the latest Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology after extensive engineering work is completed.

They are among the UK communities to benefit from a grant scheme aimed at bringing superfast fibre broadband to parts of the country particularly hard-to-reach. More than £26,000 was awarded towards the cost of making faster fibre broadband available to the local school, Webbers Church of England Primary School in Holcombe Rogus, and the two villages.

The grant scheme is part of the Community Fibre Partnerships programme, which has been established to help communities not covered by any private or publicly funded fibre broadband rollout plans. Eligible communities can apply for match funding towards the cost of a new local fibre network as long as the technology is capable of serving the local school.

Hockworthy and Holcombe Rogus are the first communities in the UK to benefit from the maximum grant available being increased from up to £20,000 to up to £30,000.

The faster speeds are welcomed by local households, who, increasingly, are connecting a variety of devices to the internet at the same time for entertainment, research and education, whilst businesses use the high-speed technology to deliver new services to new customers and to boost competitiveness.

Better access to essential online services, easier Skyping of friends and family and quicker sending and receiving of documents and large files are among the benefits. The contract with the two villages, which are located close to the Somerset border, was the 334th contract to be signed for Openreach’s UK-wide Community Fibre Partnerships programme.

The extensive engineering work will see Openreach install new fibre optic cabling and two new fibre broadband cabinets.

Hockworthy resident Louise Webber, who led a local campaign for an upgrade, said: “Having good quality broadband is now an essential part of modern day life. When we knew that we were not included in any current broadband upgrade plans, we decided it was essential for us to take action.

“Fibre broadband can’t come quickly enough for us all. Many people in the village can only get broadband speeds of less than 2 Mbps. I can get 2.7 Mbps, but the speed is variable, streaming online content is not possible and downloading a box set can take a couple of days.”

Steve Haines, managing director of next generation access for Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT Group, said: “We’ve already made fibre broadband available to more than two million homes and businesses across the South West thanks to our own private investment and partnerships with the public sector and local communities – and we are determined to go much further. Recent improvements to the Community Fibre Partnerships programme have included increasing the maximum grant available to £30,000.

“This exciting technology is providing a vital boost for households and businesses across the region because whatever you do online you can do it better with faster broadband.”

Paul Coles, BT South West regional partnership director, said: “It is very satisfying to work with proactive communities like Hockworthy and Holcombe Rogus to find ways of bringing fibre broadband to some of the most challenging areas.

“We’re involved in many similar community fibre partnerships across the South West and the UK as a whole to make faster internet available to even more homes and businesses. No one is doing more than BT to roll out fibre broadband to rural areas.”

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