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Faster Broadband Connectivity for Over 11,000 Homes and Businesses in Rural Herefordshire

Broadband in rural Herefordshire has undergone a once-in-a-lifetime transformative change, benefiting over 11,000 homes and businesses with ultra-fast connectivity. 
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Broadband in rural Herefordshire has undergone a once-in-a-lifetime transformative change, benefiting over 11,000 homes and businesses with ultra-fast connectivity. 

Thanks to Herefordshire Council’s innovative Fastershire Rural Clusters Broadband Project, numerous rural communities can now revel in the same high-speed broadband experience typically associated with urban centres across the UK.

This groundbreaking achievement, realised through a collaboration between Fastershire and network provider Airband, has been made possible through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding. This fund aimed to promote balanced economic growth by reducing inequalities between different regions within the European Union.

The full-fibre, gigabit-capable network encompasses communities in the north, from Wellington across to Preston Wynne and further down to Bartestree, Mordiford, and Hampton Bishop. To the south, it connects homes and businesses along the rural lanes from Bellingham to Hoarwithy, crossing over to How Caple, proceeding to Fownhope and extending down to Baysam. Towards the west, the future-proofed infrastructure now also reaches from Credenhill, extending south to Madley and back east to Preston on Wye and Clehonger.

This digital superhighway builds upon the significant progress achieved by Fastershire. Since its inception in 2011, Fastershire has transformed superfast broadband speeds from nearly zero per cent to an impressive 94.75% of Herefordshire premises, now enjoying access to speeds exceeding 30Mbps. Moreover, 75.97% of properties are now privileged with gigabit access, marking a substantial leap in connectivity. The partnership’s utilisation of public funding alongside Airband’s commercial investment has played a vital role in achieving these noteworthy milestones. This collaboration surpasses national benchmarks and introduces a network that ensures faster broadband for future generations in communities that would otherwise have remained isolated.

Independent councillor David Hitchiner and former leader of Herefordshire Council, said, ‘Fastershire has delivered high-speed broadband to communities that would have otherwise been left waiting for years. Using the new service means I benefit from faster and more reliable internet, so no more frozen frames in video meetings. I would encourage people to consider the many benefits of taking up a fibre service.’

Member for Finance and Corporate Services, Councillor Peter Stoddart MBE MBA CEng, emphasised, “The triumph of this project is credited to a forward-thinking Council team, who initiated funding applications and conceived ingenious solutions to bring fibre broadband to our local population. The collective endeavour has centred on empowering our communities to fully harness the economic, educational, well-being, and leisure opportunities unlocked by high-speed broadband connectivity.’

Redmond Peel, Chief Executive of Airband, added, “This is a very real and clear demonstration of how the private and public sector can work collaboratively to create huge benefits to communities with little or no internet connectivity. I’m incredibly proud that Airband, as part of the Fastershire Project, has been able to play such a pivotal role in creating an immediate and life-changing solution for so many households and businesses, and we’re looking forward to supporting the community as we roll out our high-speed solution to the many thousands that need it.”

Traditionally, broadband connectivity in rural areas utilised fibre-to-the-cabinet-technology (FTTC). Fastershire distinguished itself by pioneering fibre-to-the-property (FTTP) technology for community schemes, sidestepping the need to wait for regional rollouts. Building Digital UK has mirrored this innovative approach in its drive to connect hard-to-reach areas across the UK.

Airband’s new network in Herefordshire has also facilitated the Fastershire Community Broadband Grant and paved the way for Fastershire to expand Airband’s network into small clusters of rural properties, encompassing 194 properties in Nash & Knill, Castle Frome, Thornbury and Eywood.

Herefordshire Council also celebrates that properties still awaiting faster broadband connections are now under consideration for Project Gigabit. This pioneering initiative, bolstered by the UK government’s substantial £5 billion investment, forms part of a nationwide drive to provide high-speed gigabit-capable broadband to 85% of the UK population by 2025 and 99% as soon as possible.

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