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Major engineering challenge brings superfast broadband to remote Exmoor village

Monday 18th December, 2017

Major engineering challenge brings superfast broadband to remote Exmoor village

Villagers in a remote Exmoor community are celebrating the arrival of superfast broadband after the completion of one of the most challenging local engineering projects of its kind in the South West in recent years.

Nearly 100 households in the historic West Somerset village of Luxborough now have access to high-speed fibre broadband services offering download speeds of up to 80Mbps - about double the national average speed - as a result of a co-funding agreement between local residents and Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network.

The project included the installation of many kilometres of overhead and underground fibre optic cabling and two fibre broadband cabinets, the laying of 700 metres of new underground ducting, four road closures, extensive cutting back of trees and even the clearing of blockages in the underground network.

The Luxborough partnership is the latest of more than 200 community fibre partnerships between Openreach and local communities to be completed across the UK, making fibre broadband available to a further 30,000 households on top of large-scale private sector and subsidised projects. The figure is expected to double to 60,000 within 12 months.

Though one of Somerset’s smaller villages, Luxborough has a long history. It was mentioned in the Domesday Book and its church, the Church of St Mary, dates from Norman times. The village is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and comprises the three hamlets of Kingsbridge, Churchtown and Pooltown, all of which can now get fibre broadband.

Luxborough resident Nigel Duke, who organised the fund-raising in the village, said: “The arrival of superfast broadband will make a huge difference to our community. The service is outstandingly good and everybody in the village is thrilled. It is in a completely different league to what we had before.

“A good quality broadband service is essential for households today, particularly in the case of a remote community such as ours where a lot of people run some kind of business from home or need to work from home.

“Until now, the vast majority of the village had no broadband whatsoever apart from a satellite service. We lobbied hard for fibre broadband, but it became clear that, unless we took further action, the best we could hope for would be a wireless service. We therefore settled on a partnership approach with Openreach.”

Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Luxborough has now been connected to superfast broadband as a result of a community fibre partnership. I have been in discussions with people in the village for some time about this matter and know how hard they have worked to bring about this connection and much needed improvement to their broadband service. Everyone in the village should be very proud of their efforts and it is a great example of what can be achieved when a local community pulls together.”

Emma Howarth, Openreach’s programme director for next generation access in the South West, said: “The Luxborough scheme is certainly one of the most challenging and complex projects of its kind we have undertaken in the South West. We are very pleased to have been able to work in partnership with local residents to bring this exciting technology to the village. It will provide a vital boost for local households and businesses because whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband.

“Community fibre partnerships, such as Luxborough, are an important part of our commitment to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible. More than nine out of ten households and businesses in the South West can already order superfast broadband – and we are determined to go much further.”

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