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County rolls out superfast broadband to rural areas
8:49am Friday 11th October 2013 in News
MANY villages in the Romsey and Stockbridge areas could benefit from superfast broadband within two years.
That’s the promise of Hampshire County Council, which has pumped millions into a project aimed at delivering the service to every household.
Funding for the £13.8m project has come from HCC, in partnership with borough and district councils and BT.
Communities to be connected in the first wave of the project, to be implemented by 2015, include parts of Lockerley, East Dean, East and West Tytherley, Sherfield English, King’s Somborne, Up Somborne, Ashley, Houghton, Plaitford, East and West Wellow, Nursling, Michelmersh and Timsbury, the Wallops, Longstock, Stockbridge, Copythorne, Newbridge, Brook and Bramshaw.
BT will provide superfast broadband services in areas such as North Baddesley, Valley Park, Rownhams, Lee and parts of Romsey.
Hampshire’s leader, Roy Perry, who wants the county to be in England’s “premier league” for broadband access, said: “Access to broadband is a vital component of infrastructure in today’s world – businesses, for education, for residents.
“In order for Hampshire to remain competitive in economic terms and to ensure quality of learning is available to all students, we want to make sure as many people as possible can benefit from faster internet connection speeds.”
Mr Perry pointed out that more than 20,000 Hampshire residents were in support of faster broadband countywide.
“The more names and email addresses we have, the easier it will be for us to make the case to extend superfast broadband coverage,” concluded Mr Perry.
However, villagers in the Dean and Tytherley areas are looking at an alternative provider to BT without any expense to taxpayers.
Malcolm Vincent, from Dun Valley Broadband Group, said the distance between West Tytherley and Lockerley telephone exchange meant that it was impossible to even get normal broadband speeds of 2mbps.
Mr Vincent said: “We’ve been looking at Gigaclear, an alternative to BT, to provide a fibre optic service in six villages. (East and West Tytherley, East and West Dean, and East and West Grimstead). From the moment we hit 190 households signing up, we will have it installed within three months.
“We’ve identified a technically-superior broadband solution that offers much faster connections speeds at the same price as equivalent BT services and it will be delivered without spending one penny of ratepayers’ or taxpayers’ money and the only commitment that subscribers will need to make is the initial £100 connection charge.”
He said he was unhappy with council taxpayers’ cash being used to deliver broadband to rural areas.
“I am very disappointed with HCC. I asked the council to keep me informed about broadband provision, but it hasn’t.
This ratepayers money could have been used elsewhere instead of for broadband,” concluded Mr Vincent. Manageress of West Tytherley Village Store, Claire Burton welcomed the news.
“I only use broadband for emails and doing the wages and I don’t find it slow. But I do know people in the village who struggle with it and this will be good news for them,” said Claire.
Mottisfont Parish Council chairman John Millns said that he hopes that BT’s Open Reach division doesn’t get the contract to install the infrastructure.
“If BT Open Reach is installing it, I personally don’t want anything to do with superfast broadband. We’ve had two major breakdowns with broadband and phone lines in the village this year and it took over a month for BT Open Reach to carry out repairs. If BT Open Reach cannot maintain the normal infrastructure I’ve no confidence in it installing superfast broadband. Our current broadband is very slow and I am paying for 8mbps but we only get 1.6mbps,” said Mr Millns. The first premises to benefit from superfast Hampshire Broadband Programme scheme should go live in January.
County officials plan to have 90 per cent of premises across Hampshire on superfast broadband by the end of 2015 and the remainder by 2017.
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