Simon Galton

Liberal Democrat County & District Councillor Learn more

Welland Valley Takes Comes Step Closer to Real Superfast Broadband

by simongalton on 17 December, 2014

Residents in the Welland Valley are finally set to have access to superfast broadband.

Residents in the Welland Valley are finally set to have access to superfast broadband.

Gigaclear has recently announced that it has received enough expressions of interest from the Welland Valley area that it is now able to go into stage two of deploying superfast broadband and start taking orders.

If you live in one of the Leicestershire villages of Blaston, Bringhurst, Cranoe, Drayton, Hallaton, Horninghold, Nevill Holt, Medbourne, Slawston or Stockerston then you can now place an order here.

There is also planning underway to extend the technology to Glooston, Stonton Wyville and Welham if enough interest is shown.

 

Who is Gigaclear? And What do you Mean by “Real” Superfast Broadband?

There’s been a lot of publicity around “Superfast Broadband” for rural areas, with the County Council spending £millions to enable BT to upgrade their network. However, as described in my last update, BT’s approach involved drawbacks.

BT are only providing Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) rather than Fibre to the Premises. (FTTP) As a result, homes will not receive the full benefit of fibre communications, and those living more than two Km from the cabinet are likely to see little benefit at all. They would be unlikely to achieve the Government’s minimum target of 2Mbps, let alone the 5-10Mbps required to comfortably use services such as iPlayer or Netflix.

For this reason, it was time to look to see if there were any alternative providers that could provide rural broadband users with the service they deserve. Small firms and community projects across the country were already providing rural areas with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps.

The nearest such company to the villages in East Leicestershire were Gigaclear who had recently joined with Rutland Telecom and started providing Fibre connections that lead up to the property in Uppingham, providing speeds up to 1,000Mbps. While most devices won’t make full use of speeds of that magnitude, the aim is to ensure that the technology is future-proofed and will still be meeting the needs of residents 20 years down the line.

Working with the Welland Valley Broadband Group, Gigaclear has managed to establish there’s enough interest in the Welland Valley to deploy and has now started taking orders on their website. Residents from the Leicestershire villages of Blaston, Bringhurst, Cranoe, Drayton, Hallaton, Horninghold, Nevill Holt, Medbourne, Slawston or Stockerston are able to sign up.

I, personally, am delighted that residents and businesses in these deep rural areas of east Leicestershire are finally being offered good quality internet connections.

 

Feedback from Local Residents

There were some concerns from residents in Medbourne that working with Gigaclear might put the BT work programme at risk. Since then, Medbourne residents have been reassured that both BT and Gigaclear will be doing work in their area and that residents will have the choice of both.

You can read the views of Medbourne residents in their latest newsletter.

You might also be interested in the website of the Appleton Broadband Group. The residents of Appleton and Eaton connected to Gigaclear back in Autumn 2012. The website documents the process, explains more about how Gigaclear works and also includes some articles that evaluate Gigaclear from a customer’s perspective.

I have heard complaints from Drayton residents that as Gigaclear have now stated their intention to deploy on a commercial basis in the Welland valley the County Council cannot include Drayton to benefit from subsidised work from BT in the phase 2 tender . I’m also disappointed that Drayton residents will not be provided with the choice of two providers for superfast broadband but am assured that they will at the least be garaunteed access to an internet connection of the strength and quality that only used to be provided to urban areas.

I also recognise that there remains a large number of rural communities such as East Norton which are not set to benefit from Superfast Broadband under the existing BT phase 1 contract or the Gigaclear offer. Whilst the phase 2 contract will invite BT to upgrade all remaining areas not currently included the outcome of this process will not be known until early next summer.

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