Westfield residents urged to pool Government-backed vouchers to secure ultrafast broadband

Openreach is asking residents in Westfield to get behind a bid to bring ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre broadband to the village. 

The company is urging local residents and businesses to consider pooling Gigabit broadband vouchers available from the UK Government to help build a new, gigabit-capable network, where fibre optic cables are run directly from the exchange all the way to each property.

Residents who don’t already have access to a 100 mbps broadband service can check if they qualify and pledge their voucher on the Connect My Community website.

Utilising the vouchers enables Openreach to work with the local community to build a customised, co-funded network and bring full fibre broadband to areas not included in any existing private or publicly subsidised upgrade schemes.

By working with Openreach in this way, more than 150,000 homes and businesses across the UK have already benefitted from ultrafast, ultra-reliable broadband.

Laura Whelan, Openreach’s Partnership Director for the South East, said:

“This is a really exciting opportunity for the community of Westfield to bring Full Fibre infrastructure to their village.

“Everyone who pledges a voucher will be doing their bit to help make Westfield one of the best-connected places in the South East. Pledging couldn’t be simpler, but we need residents to act quickly – as the scheme closes in March 2021.”

Laura added: “Thousands of homes and businesses across East Sussex can already upgrade to the Openreach Full Fibre network and local people can use our online postcode checker to see what’s now available.

“We’re investing £12 billion to build full fibre broadband to 20 million homes – and more than three million of those will be in the toughest third of the UK – but we can’t upgrade the whole country alone. This latest support from Government, alongside help to remove red tape and barriers that slow down the build, is vital.”

To claim vouchers which contribute towards the cost of building the new network, residents are asked to commit to ordering a Full Fibre service from a provider of their choice (using the Openreach network) for at least 12 months once the new network is available.

Eligible residents qualify for up to £1,500 for rural homes and up to £3,500 for small and medium-sized businesses under the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

Local MP Sally-Ann Hart backed the initiative, saying: “Now, more than ever, rural communities need fantastic connectivity to fully interact with the world. Full fibre technology will make a massive difference to local homes and businesses and I urge residents to consider pledging their Gigabit broadband vouchers for the common good and help us to make sure that nobody’s left behind.”

UK Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “We're committed to levelling up communities across the UK with lightning-fast gigabit broadband that will improve lives and boost the economy.

"The broadband vouchers on offer provide immediate financial help for people to get next-generation speeds by helping to cover the installation costs of companies such as Openreach. "I urge people to check online if they are eligible for a broadband boost."

Full fibre technology provides more reliable, resilient and future-proof connectivity (meaning fewer faults); more predictable, consistent speeds and enough capacity to easily meet growing data demands. It's also future-proofed, which means it will serve generations to come and won’t need to be upgraded for decades.

Fibre optics - strands of glass around one-tenth the thickness of a human hair - transmit data using light signals. Fibre is smaller, lighter and more durable than copper cabling and less vulnerable to damage. This short video explains what full fibre technology is and there’s more info here.

In December, Openreach announced it was creating 2,500 new jobs and an estimated 2,800 roles with partners to support the UK-wide Full Fibre build, including 341 new roles in the South East. Openreach already employs more than 34,500 people, including more than 25,000 engineers who build, maintain and connect customers to its nationwide broadband network. Of these, more than 4,800 live and/or work in the South East.

There are clear economic benefits to building Full Fibre in rural areas. In a report by the Centre for Economics & Business Research (Cebr) – Full Fibre broadband: A platform for growth” - commissioned by Openreach last year, revealed that connecting everyone in the South East to ‘Full Fibre’ broadband by 2025 would create a £8.7 billion boost to the region’s economy.

The report also revealed that more than 64,000 people across the South East could be brought back into the workforce through enhanced connectivity. This could include roles in small businesses and entrepreneurs – as well as allowing thousands more people to work remotely.