01 September 2021
Community Fibre Initiative
The internet service in/around Hartley Wintney is currently limited to Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FttC) for all but a few properties, which means the last run between the cabinet and the property uses copper cables, which limits the speed and reliability of Hartley Wintney’s broadband connections. This has been challenging during lockdown where many properties have had adults working from home and school-age children engaged in on-line learning. The solution is a full fibre connection or FttP (Fibre-to-the-Premises). FttP offers download speeds up to 1Gigabit (1000 Mbps), although the average user tends to opt for a contract of 300 Mbps, which is approximately 10 times the current speed that most residents can currently get. Unfortunately, apart from a few properties this service is not yet available in Hartley Wintney, and there are no published plans to improve the infrastructure in the short term.
Community Fibre Partnerships
Community Fibre Partnerships (CFPs) are initiatives run by Openreach and are part-funded by the Government’s £210M Gigabit Voucher Scheme for rural communities. Vouchers worth up to £1,500 for a household and £3,500 for businesses can be put towards the costs of FttP. In addition, Hampshire County Council has also confirmed that it is adding an additional £1m of funding in 21/22 to support this initiative, as a result eligible residents will be able to get vouchers worth up to £3,000 per property – double the value of the government’s standard Gigabit Broadband Voucher.
To accelerate the delivery of FttP to the village a number of community fibre projects have been initiated by groups within the community. Earlier this year the leaders of these individual groups met up online to share thoughts and ideas. Over the last couple of months the group has been working with Openreach’s Rural Engagement Manager for Hampshire and have now agreed to progress one single CFP project with Openreach. This will cover the whole of Hartley Wintney and the neighbouring localities in Hartfordbridge, Elvetham, West Green, Phoenix Green. The cost of the infrastructure (£1.8m covering 2600+ properties), can be met from a combination of vouchers and Openreach funding. So depending upon the numbers of people from the village participating and the funding from vouchers provided we are confident that we can deliver full fibre broadband infrastructure to the whole village for free!
Benefits of the Community Partnership Scheme
The principal benefits of the Community scheme are:
- All Hartley Wintney premises that participate in the scheme will be able to access a full fibre broadband connection.
- The problems occasioned by distance from the roadside cabinet and integrity of the telephone cabling will be avoided.
- Full Fibre is capable of providing download speeds up to 24 times faster than the current UK average of 46mbps and is capable of supporting even higher speeds in the future.
- Multiple users will be able to access the internet at the same time without compromising each others activity.
- It will be possible for more people to work from home in the knowledge that a fast reliable internet service is available.
- It will enable people living alone or a long way from their family and friends to maintain contact through video conferencing applications such as ZOOM.
- Online video appointments with a family doctor, hospital consultant or other professional will be possible.
What are the next steps?
Openreach are in the process of finalising the contract based on the addresses provided which will then be signed to initiate the Design and Build Phase of the project. Ahead of this Hartley Wintney Parish Council is supporting the initiative by collecting name, address and contact details for residents and businesses who are prepared to commit to taking up a new high speed broadband service.
Once contracts are signed we anticipate a 12 month period to complete the infrastructure installation, during this time those that commit to the scheme will be required to sign up to a new service contract from one of the full fibre providers. Currently the small number of properties in the village who can already use FttP can choose from a range of providers (BT, SKY, Vodafone, Zen, Talk Talk) all of whom offer a range of packages ranging from £25 upwards.
If you would like to register your interest in this scheme please complete and submit the form here.
Cllr. Stuart Elborn (Project Lead for the HW Full Fibre Project)