Work has started in the first Gloucestershire communities to benefit from the ambitious, multi-million pound project to roll-out faster broadband throughout the county, BT and Gloucestershire County Council announced today.
Engineers are now planning and building the new fibre network in Cinderford, Coleford, Drybrook, Longhope and Lydbrook.
Around 15,000 homes and businesses will have access to faster broadband once the new network is complete in these towns and villages, with the first customers expected to be connected during the autumn.
The newly named ‘Fastershire' project will involve hundreds of engineers working for BT's local network business Openreach, laying around 2,500 kilometres of optical fibre cable and installing around 800 new fibre broadband cabinets throughout the Gloucestershire and Herefordshire project area.
The deal between the two councils and BT should enable around 90 per cent of homes and businesses to have access to fibre broadband by the end of 2016. The councils' ultimate target is to provide access to broadband speeds of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) or above for all who need it by 2018 with speeds of up to 80Mbps being typical. Small businesses will also have access to speeds of up to 330Mbps through BT's fibre on demand service which starts to become available during this spring.
In addition, the £56.6 million project intends to address those premises across both counties receiving a connection of less than 2Mbps by aiming to ensure all areas receive that speed as a minimum by the end of 2016.
Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: "I'm delighted we can now announce the first communities to benefit from this important project. We have made this significant investment in the county's broadband infrastructure so that businesses and communities of all sizes can grow – this is about improving broadband access for all and I look forward to seeing the first cabinets go live later this year."
It is estimated that engineers will complete more than a million man hours of work planning and building the network in both counties during the lifetime of the project.
Bill Murphy, BT's managing director for Next Generation Access, said: "We have been working hard to get us to where we are today. This is an exciting time for Gloucestershire and the beginning of a journey that will see the communications landscape completely transformed.
"This ambitious project will boost the productivity of local businesses and help to attract a more diverse range of high-growth companies to the area. It will play a major role in creating greater prosperity for the county."
Openreach, BT's local network division, will install the fibre network which will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis. Households and businesses in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from the service provider of their choice.
It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.
Fibre broadband benefits include users being able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently.
Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using ‘cloud computing' technology. There will be faster back-up of computer systems and wider use of high quality videoconferencing within businesses and between them and their customers.
With a slow internet connection you can have problems doing more than one thing at a time online. With faster broadband the whole family can be online doing homework, watching iPlayer, keeping in touch with friends on Skype or Facetime and doing the weekly shop all at the same time without any time delay or frozen screen.
Working from home can now be as fast and effective as working from the office. This could save you time and money, as well as helping you to achieve a better work life balance. With faster broadband you could even consider setting up your own business from home as you would have the world class connectivity that could give you the edge.
Store photos, documents, music and videos online in the cloud rather than on the computer at home. Your files will be kept safe and you can access them anywhere. Fast upstream speeds mean backing up files is done in the blink of an eye.
With faster broadband you can download the latest blockbuster before the kettle has boiled or watch your favourite TV show online instantly.
With faster broadband you can study online with flexible hours and video tutorials that work immediately.
New telecare services mean that people who are unwell, have a disability or older people can stay safe and independent at home.
Did you know that you can now access a whole host of council services and information online, such as reporting a pothole, paying your council tax, finding out when your rubbish or recycling will be collected and checking library opening times?
Pudleston in north Herefordshire is one of the communities that we be fibre enabled under phase 2 of the Fastershire rollout. Phase 2 will be delivered by Gigaclear and will provide a new full fibre network and access to speeds up to 1000mbps.
In these community diaries the residents of Pudleston will document their experiences throughout the deployment.
To see if your property is included in phase 2 or if you can already access faster broadband, please use the address checker above.
Local community organisations, groups, clubs and other not-for-profit organisations in Herefordshire can apply for up to £2,500 funding to arrange internet support and training so that local people can make the most of the benefits of going online.
Do you know of a group or club in your community in Herefordshire who would like to find out more about using the internet and the benefits of going online?
Fastershire can arrange for a tutor to bring laptops and tablets to the group’s usual meeting place, or another venue with internet access, to demonstrate how to send emails, search for information about the local area, or shop or pay bills online, and then support them to ‘have a go’ themselves.
To find out more please email email@example.com. These free sessions could lead to a longer course for those who are interested in developing their skills at going online. These face-to-face group sessions are currently unable to take place due to COVID-19 restrictions, however please do get in touch if you would like us to let you know when they restart.
Learn My Way (www.learnmyway.com) is a website of free online courses for beginners, helping you to develop digital skills to make the most of the online world. It's also got courses and resources to help you inspire people in your community to use the internet and help them improve their digital skills - including a 'How to be a Digital Champion' course.
We also have a whole host of training guides here that you can download for your own learning or to use when training someone else.
There are many organisations across Herefordshire who regularly offer computer courses and support for beginners. Information about just some of the training offered is available here. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, please contact the organiser for up-to-date information on whether they are open and offering training.
For details of the free monthly workshops at Libraries in Herefordshire visit our events page. These aren't running currently due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Please complete the form and we will contact you as soon as this changes.
Details of beginners' computer courses offered by Adult Education in Gloucestershire are here. Please contact them for up-to-date information on whether they are currently able to offer training.
If you would like to be notified about beginners’ computer courses offered by organisations in Herefordshire please complete this form.
Here's a list of home broadband providers who offer packages for homes connected by Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) or Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), with links to their web sites, so you can find out if they're up and running where you live.
Fibre to the premises (FTTP) is one of the world's most cutting edge types of fibre broadband with blistering speeds of up to 330Mbps and 1000Mbps.
If you get enabled with FTTP, you can order it through one of the following Service Providers.
We'll update this page as more ISPs start to offer FTTP.
Here's a list of home broadband providers who offer packages for homes connected to Gigaclear's ultrafast broadband network, with links to their web sites, so you can find out if they're up and running where you live.
Location: Hereford YFC, Tillington Road, Hereford, HR4 9QJ
Date: Thursday 16th November 2017
Thursday, 16 November, either 9.30am-12.30pm or 1.30pm-4.30pm
Herefordshire Rural Hub and FasterFamers are offering this FREE training for farming businesses in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
Hereford YFC, Tillington Road, Hereford, HR4 9QJ
Below is a list of videos from our YouTube channel.
Get the most out of the internet with FREE training from Fastershire in Ross-on-Wye and Cinderford.
Booking is essential, please call 01432 260026.
No experience is necessary and equipment will be provided if required.
The Larruperz Centre, Grammar School Close, HR9 7QD
How to use your tablet
Wednesday 6 June, 2pm-4pm
How to use the internet
Monday 11 June,10am-12pm
Introduction to email
Friday 22 June, 5pm-7pm
Belle Vue Centre, 6 Belle Vue Road, GL14 2AB
How to use the internet
Tuesday 5 June, 10am-12pm
Introduction to email
Wednesday 13 June, 2pm-4pm
How to use your tablet
Monday 18 June, 5pm-7pm
Faster broadband is being rolled out across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire between now but it is not possible to flick a switch to make every area go live on the same day and some areas will go live before this. Register your interest today and we'll let you know when you can order.