​Knowle becomes 50th community to benefit from nationwide high-speed fibre broadband grant

​A small community in Bristol is to become the 50th in the UK to benefit from a BT grant to help upgrade their properties to ultrafast broadband speeds.
  • Brings total BT grant invested in community fibre partnerships across UK to £560,000

A small community in Bristol is to become the 50th in the UK to benefit from a BT grant to help upgrade their properties to ultrafast broadband speeds.

Residents living in Knowle West, Bristol will soon be able to benefit from high speed internet after they teamed up with Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s phone and broadband network.

The co-funded deal has seen investment by Openreach and the local Park Community Centre, who were able to access a BT grant to help towards costs as part of their community fibre partnership scheme.

Grants of up to £30,000 are available from BT to help towards the cost of a community fibre partnership with Openreach so long as that new fibre infrastructure serves a local Ofsted registered school or learning establishment.

The Park Community Centre is based on a 15 acre site in Knowle West and is home to more than 30 local charities and small businesses. In addition to providing training opportunities for post-16 young adults with learning and behavioural difficulties the centre also has a range of sporting and community facilities to help encourage healthier lifestyles and improve social cohesion.

Emma Hinton, director at Park Community Centre, said: “We’re incredibly excited about the prospect of getting ultrafast broadband at the centre.”

“Social deprivation can be seen all around us in Knowle West and the Park Community Centre plays a big part in trying to help tackle that issue.

“We see more than 4000 people come through our doors every month – their reasons can be wide and varied. For example a number of people come here to access our training to find work while others attend cookery classes that we run to help feed their families.

“Having a reliable and fast broadband connection will help improve what we’re able to offer the community in terms of accessing online material. It will also provide the 30 or so organisations that are based here with a real communications boost as they will be able to do more online, quicker and safer.

“Accessing the grant from BT to help fund the project was incredibly straight forward. We were simply put in touch with Paul Coles, regional director for BT, and he did the rest. It was that simple.”

Using fibre to the premise (FTTP) technology, where fast fibre is run directly from the telephone exchange to the property, the Park Community Centre – in addition to a number of local residents - will be able to access the fastest speeds in the UK. FTTP customers can currently get ultrafast broadband speeds of up to 330Mbps and could access even faster gigabit speeds in the future.

The deal is expected to see the first residents get the high-speed service in October 2018.

Emma Howarth, Openreach partnership director for South West, said: “It’s great that we’ve been able to work with the Park Community Centre to find a broadband solution that works for them. It shows what can be achieved when people work together towards a common goal, and we’re proud to be part of that.

“Partnerships like this help us bring high-speed connections to those areas that, for many reasons, broadband providers struggle to upgrade alone. Independent data shows that more than 97 per cent of Bristol 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 community projects across the UK, working in partnership with businesses, schools and residential communities to deliver faster speeds from a wide choice of competing service providers.”

Paul Coles, regional director for BT in the South West, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to help the process of bringing ultrafast broadband to The Park. The BT grant will go a long way towards helping the community achieve their goal”

“BT has dedicated £2m to award grants to communities similar to The Park where a community fibre partnership serves a school or learning establishment that’s registered by Ofsted. To date we’ve awarded more than half a million pounds to communities up and down the country. I’d encourage communities similar to The Park to take advantage of this scheme to help up bring fibre broadband to as many communities as possible

Fibre broadband makes activities like streaming music, watching TV online and uploading large files much quicker, as well as enabling several members of a household or place of work to be online at once.

Openreach’s UK-wide Community Fibre Partnership programme is bringing fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas with more than 30,000 UK households and businesses already able to benefit from faster speeds. The figure is expected to double to 60,000 within 12 months.

Across the UK, more than 400 CFP schemes have already been agreed, with upgrades complete in more than 200 communities. Once Openreach has installed the infrastructure, residents can place an order for the new faster services with a provider of their choice.