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​Villagers raise thousands of pounds in weeks to get fibre broadband

Press Release   •   Nov 21, 2016 14:24 GMT

BT's Paul Bimson with Kings Cliffe resident Sam Schofield

A Northamptonshire community is looking forward to a superfast future, after local residents took matters into their own hands to secure fibre broadband.

People living on the new Sovereign Grange housing estate in Kings Cliffe approached BT for help earlier this year when their plans to get fibre broadband from another telecoms provider fell through.

Within a few weeks, they raised thousands of pounds and asked Openreach, BT’s local network business, to help with the installation of a new fibre broadband cabinet, underground cables and the engineering work required. The project was jointly funded by Openreach and the local residents.

Local resident Sam Schofield, who led the fundraising campaign, said: “It is great news we can now connect to fibre broadband and it will no doubt make a huge difference to people living here. Being able to benefit from faster download speeds is more important than ever with so many things accessed or delivered online. It makes so much more possible than before and benefits people of all ages.

“It’s such a relief to have finally got there. As soon as we signed a contract with BT we knew we were in safe hands and I’m delighted to say thanks to Openreach the network is now up and running. We are extremely proud of what we’ve achieved as a group of local residents. Raising the money was a real challenge for us but a combination of hard work and community spirit got us over the line.”

The new roadside cabinet on Wood Road makes fibre broadband available to more than 345 homes for the first time. They’ll all be able to benefit from download speeds of up to 80Mbps, a huge improvement on what was previously available.

And because the work has been carried out by Openreach, residents have a wide choice of internet providers and can benefit from a wide range of competitive packages.

Paul Bimson, BT’s regional partnership director for the East Midlands, said: “We are working with communities just like Sovereign Grange in Kings Cliffe up and down the country. People here have shown real determination and vision to bounce back from earlier disappointment. We were really pleased to step in and rescue the situation. It’s been a pleasure working with local residents to make fibre broadband available.”

The agreement is another success for BT’s Community Fibre Partnership scheme, with more than 90 communities in the UK now connected to Openreach’s fibre broadband network after getting in touch with the company directly.

It means over 18,000 premises now have access to fibre thanks to the programmewith dozens more similar contracts in progress set to extend that reach to around 35,000 homes and businesses.

Kim Mears, Openreach’s managing director for infrastructure delivery, said: “I’m delighted to see Kings Cliffe become our latest community fibre partnership delivered.Rural communities often present the most difficult and complex challenges and working together gives us the best chance possible of finding a suitable and affordable way forward. Our dedicated team is focussed on helping people understand what can be achieved in parts of the UK not already covered by existing rollout plans.”

The Kings Cliffe broadband fundraising campaign was launched late last year by a group of villagers and quickly raised, via crowd funding, the money needed to sign a contract with BT.

The contract signed by the Sovereign Grange community in Kings Cliffe is independent of the Superfast Northamptonshire broadband programme involving Northamptonshire County Council and BT.

According to the independent thinkbroadband.com website, more than 93 per cent of homes and businesses in Northamptonshire have access to superfast broadband. This reflects the national outlook where more than nine out of ten UK homes can now get superfast broadband with another home being added on average every 30 seconds.

The rollout of superfast broadband in the UK is one of the quickest and most ambitious anywhere in the world. And more homes in the UK are now using superfast broadband than in Germany, France, Italy or Spain.

For more information about entering into a community fibre partnership with BT, please visit www.communityfibre.bt.com.