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New technology boost set to speed up pace of life in historic Gloucestershire village

Press Release   •   Feb 14, 2017 14:00 GMT

Robin Fyffe (back left), BT's Paul Coles, with pupils Lilah Hale, Ben Moore, Eden Addis (right) and Jamie Harris (back middle)

The pace of life in one of Gloucestershire’s oldest villages is set to speed up thanks to an innovative partnership between residents, BT and the Government.

The deal will enable around 130 households in English Bicknor, in the Forest of Dean, to get superfast fibre broadband.

English Bicknor Church of England Primary School will also be covered.

Residents joined forces to find a way of getting the technology after learning that their community was not part of any current public or private sector superfast fibre broadband roll-out plans.

The result is an innovative co-funding agreement. It involves funding from Openreach - BT’s local network business - and vouchers from the Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme. The project was also eligible for grant from BT’s Community Fibre Partnerships programme* to pay for the extensive engineering work.

Under this programme, communities in the final five per cent of the UK not covered by fibre broadband roll-out plans can apply for a BT grant of up to £20,000 towards the cost of their fibre broadband network if the technology will also benefit a local school or similar organisation.

More information on community fibre partnerships with BT and the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme visit: www.communityfibre.bt.com

Robin Fyffe, one of the residents who helped to spearhead the deal, said: “We believe the superfast fibre broadband service which the community fibre partnership is working towards will bring us into the 21st century, ensuring that we can all enjoy better and more reliable communications in whatever we do.

“It will also attract visitors to our B&Bs and help our farms and small businesses to operate more efficiently.”

The development was also welcomed by Hayley Alliston, head teacher of English Bicknor Church of England Primary School.

She said: “The internet is an essential learning tool in the classroom. Teachers use the touch screens as a daily part of teaching and learning. Improved broadband will allow our pupils and teachers better access to the internet, without waiting for things to download.

“Pupils regularly use the ipads and laptops as part of English and mathematics lessons so they will be very pleased. This will also allow us to have a better conversation when we Skype our friendship school in Texas.”

If the extensive engineering work goes to plan, the new technology should go live before the end of the year.

Between now and then engineers from Openreach will lay fibre optic cable from the village to nearby Lydbrook telephone exchange and build a new fibre broadband roadside cabinet in the middle of the village opposite St Mary’s Church.

Once the work is completed, villagers will have access to broadband download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads of up to 20Mbps**. Because the network is being installed by Openreach, people opting for an upgrade will have a choice of fibre broadband providers.

Kim Mears, Openreach’s managing director for infrastructure delivery, said: “Partnerships like this help us to bring high-speed connections to challenging areas that the private sector would have difficulty reaching alone.

“More than 92 per cent of the UK can access superfast speeds today, and we’re committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible in the UK. That’s why we’re investing in hundreds of similar projects across the UK, working in partnership with business and residential communities to deliver faster speeds from a wide choice of competing internet service providers.

“I have no doubt that the people of English Bicknor will see real benefits thanks to the faster connectivity and variety of services we’re delivering.”

Paul Coles, BT’s regional manager for Gloucestershire and the South West, said: “Every day we’re seeing how fibre broadband is changing people’s lives for the better and it’s great to see communities like English Bicknor coming together to work with us to make it happen. Whether it’s families needing to connect more than one device to the internet at the same time, or people wanting to work from home or run a business – everything is easier and quicker with fibre broadband.

“Around 340,000 households and businesses across Gloucestershire are now able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of BT’s own investment and through its public sector partnerships.”

Notes to Editors

*For more information on community fibre partnerships with BT and the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme visit: www.communityfibre.bt.com

As part of the scheme, communities experiencing broadband download speeds of 2Mbps or less are eligible to apply for a Government voucher of up to £350 per property.

**These are the top wholesale speeds available from BT’s local network business Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

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Issued the BT regional press office. For more information please contactEmma Tennant on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.comTwitter: @EmmaTennantBT

All BT news releases can be read at www.bt.com/newscentre

About Superfast Britain

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

  1. £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017;
  2. £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities; and
  3. £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.

    Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

    About BT

    BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

    British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

    For more information, visit www.btplc.com

About Openreach

Openreach is the UK’s leading digital infrastructure provider.Its 32,000 employees are responsible for building and maintaining millions of miles of fibre and copper cables that connect every home and business in the UK to local telephone exchanges. Openreach operates and maintains this network to deliver a range of wholesale services for more than 560 retail providers, who in-turn provide telephony, broadband, TV and data services to more than 30 million consumer and business customers throughout the country.Openreach is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of its revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom. Any company can access its products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.Over the last decade, Openreach has invested more than £10bn into its network and is currently building the UK’s largest fibre broadband footprint. This technology is available to more than 26 million homes and businesses, with tens of thousands more gaining access each week.Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group. For the year ended 31 March 2016, it reported revenues of £5.1bn. For more information, visitopenreach.co.uk