Community scheme brings high-speed fibre broadband to historic Devon village
A partnership between local residents and Openreach is set to make superfast fibre broadband available to the historic Devon village of Lapford.
The village, which has a variety of historic features including a 12th century church, rebuilt by William de Tracey as a penance for being one of the assassins of Thomas a Becket, will be getting the latest 21st century Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology capable of delivering speeds up to 80Mbps.
The new high-speed fibre network, funded by grants from Openreach and energy provider Calor, will deliver superfast speeds to the village, including Lapford Community Primary School, within 12 months.
A £3,585 grant is coming from Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnerships programme, which has been established to help communities not covered by any private or publicly funded fibre broadband rollout scheme. 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.
Local resident and parish councillor Bill Graham, who organised the appeal in the village, said: “The arrival of this technology will make a huge difference to everybody in the village who uses the internet for work, education, leisure and day-to-day living.
“At present, the broadband service is inconsistent. Anything being streamed stutters and the system can drop out whilst users are trying to download complex documents, fill in order forms or do online banking.
“We have a significant number of people in the village who work from home and many of them also have young families so they are accessing the internet for a variety of reasons. Our public transport is so bad that many older residents have to carry out their supermarket shopping on-line.”
Steve Haines, managing director of next generation access for Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network, said: “It’s great to be able to work with communities across the South West to find a broadband solution. Partnerships like this help us to bring high-speed connections to challenging areas which broadband providers struggle to upgrade alone.
“More than 93 per cent of the UK can access superfast speeds today, and we’re committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible. That’s why we’re investing in hundreds of similar projects across the UK, with more than 350 contracts signed to date, working in partnership with business and residential communities to deliver faster speeds from a wide choice of competing service providers.”
Paul Coles, BT’s South West regional partnership director, said: “We’ve made considerable progress rolling out high-speed broadband across Devon and the South West – more than 2.2 million homes and businesses across the region can now get fibre broadband - and we recognise there is more to be done. Our partnership with the village of Lapford is an example of our commitment to taking faster broadband as far as possible as quickly as possible. Fibre broadband is a vital part of building a prosperous and successful future for the communities of the South West.”
Paul Blacklock, Calor’s corporate affairs manager, said: “We provide rural energy to homes and businesses in the region and understand the challenges that country living can pose, especially when it comes to accessing community facilities. That’s why we decided we’d like to give something back, by offering rural off grid communities the chance to source some much-needed funds for a project that will make a real difference in their area.
“We’re delighted to award Lapford Parish Council with £2,500 to help their community project, and look forward to catching up with them once it’s complete. As we were inundated with so many worthy projects, we’ll be relaunching our Rural Community Fund next year and making more grants available. We’ll be sharing details through our social channels and website soon.”
The Lapford agreement is the 355th Community Fibre Partnership to be signed in the UK.
The Openreach network offers wholesale fibre broadband access to all broadband service providers under the same prices, terms and conditions, so local households and businesses have a choice of many competing services from more than a hundred different providers.
For more information on community fibre partnerships with Openreach go to - www.communityfibre.openreach.co.uk
For more information about the Calor Rural Community Fund - www.calor.co.uk/communityfund