Fastershire has been working to transform broadband access across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire since 2012 and reaching deep into rural areas.
Here’s how it’s been done…
Stage 1: Commerically funded delivery
Commercially funded delivery has focused mainly on the more built up areas in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, and areas of Hereford, Gloucester, Cheltenham and some of our larger market towns.
Most of the early commercial rollout was delivered by Openreach using Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) to provide superfast capable connections. Virgin Media also built its Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) network in parts of Gloucestershire.
Recently commercial investment in these areas has shifted towards building new gigabit-capable Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) / full fibre networks, and is being delivered by networks operators like Openreach, City Fibre, Netomnia, Zzoomm, Full Fibre Limited, Virgin Media, Gigaclear and Airband.
Stage 2: Fastershire’s rollout with Openreach
Fastershire’s first rollout contract was delivered by Openreach and provided 120,000 rural properties with superfast connection.
The contract split the two counties into fourteen milestone areas (seven in each county) to ensure that coverage was spread more evenly across the two counties and Fastershire could ensure deeply rural properties were also reached.
The rollout mainly used Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) but also some Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) providing those properties with a gigabit capable connection. (See the broadband explained page for more information about FTTC and FTTP)
By the end of this rollout, stage 1 and stage 2 had combined increase superfast coverage to over 90% of properties across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
Stage 3: Fastershire’s rollout with Gigaclear and Openreach
Gigaclear’s rollout for Fastershire began in 2015 in the Cotswolds, where Gigaclear provided an additional 6,500 homes and businesses with access to a superfast connection.
In 2017 Gigaclear was awarded the contract to reach some of the remaining properties across rural Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
Although Fastershire’s aim is to provide properties with access to superfast connection, because Gigaclear’s network only uses Fibre to the Property (FTTP) connections, all those properties reached will benefit from a gigabit capable connection.
Alongside Fastershire’s funded rollout, Gigaclear are also undertaking some additional commercially funded deployment in these areas as well.
Fastershire’s rollout with Openreach
Fastershire’s second funded rollout with Openreach helped the remaining 2,200 in Hereford and around 4,200 properties in Cheltenham and Gloucester also benefit from a superfast fibre broadband connection.
Stage 4: Fastershire’s rollout with Airband
The project’s stage 4 rollout with Airband deployed a brand new Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) network and provided over 11,000 hard-to-reach properties with access to faster broadband.
The rollout was funded by Fastershire and the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme and was managed by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs using the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).
Stage 5: Fastershire Broadband Grants
The Fastershire broadband grant schemes targeted the final 3-4% of homes and businesses that still required access to superfast broadband.
Marches and Gloucestershire Business Broadband Grant
The grant was created in partnership with Connecting Shropshire and Superfast Telford and was partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The grant provided eligible businesses with up to £25,000 of the capital installation cost, and through our registration portal, we aim to help to match your business with potential suppliers who can install your high-speed connectivity.
Fastershire Broadband Grants
The scheme is entirely funded by Herefordshire Council and Gloucestershire County Council and is designed to help find a solution specific to each project.
Fastershire Business Broadband Grant
The Business Broadband Grant helped businesses in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire that didn’t have access to superfast broadband (30Mbs) and were unsuitable for the Fastershire Community Broadband Grant Scheme. Eligible businesses could access a grant of up to £20,000 to cover up to 80% of the capital cost of installing faster broadband.
Community Broadband Grant
The Fastershire Community Broadband Grant targeted the final 3-4% of properties in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire still requiring access to superfast broadband of 30mbps or more. The scheme was entirely funded by Herefordshire Council and Gloucestershire County Council and was designed to help find a solution specific for each community. Fastershire funded up to a maximum of £500,000 per community project. The Fastershire Community Broadband Grant for properties in Gloucestershire closed in August 2023 and closed at the end of September 2023 for Herefordshire.
The grant aimed to provide these access to superfast connections (30mbps or above), but the scheme only invested in networks that were capable of providing access to gigabit connections (1,000mbps). In some cases, the solution meant using a new supplier or different technology to reach a deeply rural community or to extend an existing network further to reach outlying properties that were too expensive to connect.
Support & Training
Fastershire is not just about technology. The project also included several programs that helped encourage greater adoption and exploitation of faster broadband. If you could get online, you might have been interested in the free courses, learning games, and advice on using computers on the Learn My Way website. Learn My Way provided free online courses for beginners, helping you develop digital skills to make the most of the online world. It also had 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.
Fastershire ran a number of programs designed to help small and medium-sized businesses get the most from fibre broadband. CREATE, FasterBusiness, and FasterWomen provided businesses across Herefordshire and Gloucestershire with access to free workshops, training, and tailored one-to-one consultancy. The programs covered anything a business might have needed, including troubleshooting, social media, online marketing, connectivity, software, hardware, and much more.
The Faster Farmers Business Support Programme
FasterFarmers offered free business support for farming, agricultural, and land-based businesses in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Technology played a significant role in driving substantial changes across the industry, and Fastershire, in partnership with the Herefordshire Rural Hub, established FasterFarmers to provide free training and advice aimed at helping farmers harness new digital technology.
FasterFarmers was funded by Fastershire and was administered by the Herefordshire Rural Hub, making it accessible to any farming or agricultural business in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
You could have visited the events section for details of past Faster Farmers workshops, or you could have contacted us for further information.