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Fastershire broadband partnership on course to reach more than 20,000 homes by the end of the summer

On behalf of the Fastershire project

Major engineering challenges overcome by multi-million pound project

The number of homes and businesses across Herefordshire able to access faster fibre broadband through the Fastershire roll-out programme will exceed 20,000 by the end of the Summer.

Partners Herefordshire Council and BT today confirmed the roll-out of fibre broadband is on course to pass this key milestone despite major engineering challenges. The work includes engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network company – laying more than 300 kilometres of fibre optic cable.

This will take the total number of premises across the county able to access faster fibre broadband at the end of this Summer to around 55,000 as a result of the Fastershire roll-out and private sector investments by companies like BT.

Between now and the end of the Summer, fibre broadband will become available for the first time in: Bridge Sollars, Bromyard, Burley Gate, Canon Pyon, Fownhope, Harewood End, Holme Lacy, How Caple, Madley, Michaelchurch, Pencombe, Peterchurch, Pontrilas, Skenfrith, St Weonards, Sutton St Nicholas, Tarrington, Trumpet, Weobley, Wormbridge and Wormelow.

In addition, more people will be able to access the technology in areas where it is already live. These places include: Carey, Gorsley, Lea, Ross-on-Wye and Symonds Yat.

Other communities where faster fibre broadband is now live as a result of Fastershire include: Bartestree Cross, Burghill, Much Marcle and Upton Bishop, as well as parts of Hereford not already covered by the private sector’s commercial roll-out of the technology.

Herefordshire County Councillor Graham Powell said: “The roll-out of fibre broadband is gathering pace all the time, despite the challenges presented by our sparsely populated rural environment. The deployment of a variety of technologies and advanced engineering methods is making real progress possible.

“The Fastershire project, which delivers fibre broadband to those areas where commercial deployment is not economically viable, still has more than 18 months to run and I’m excited about the benefits that people across Herefordshire are able to enjoy as the result of our joint investments.”

Mike Cook, BT’s regional director for the West Midlands, said: “Fastershire is a huge engineering operation, but the roll-out is progressing well. Our engineers have already laid more than 230 kilometres of fibre optic cable, including along many rural farm lanes.

“As well as the normal day-to-day engineering work, this project has often presented other engineering challenges, such as getting wayleaves and organising traffic management in busy locations. We’ve had to arrange temporary traffic lights at 50 different locations, including on some busy commuter routes, where every effort is made by the project teams to keep any disruption to motorists and residents to an absolute minimum.”

When an area has gone live, Herefordshire homes and businesses will be able to access download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.* In some areas, where fibre is connected direct to a home or business, download speeds can be as high as 330Mbps.* The upgrades do not happen automatically – local people have to choose to upgrade. Because the Openreach network is ‘open’, residents and businesses have a wide choice of companies offering fibre broadband, with more than 140 providers currently operating across the UK, ensuring competitive prices.

Residents and businesses can follow the progress of the roll-out via the Fastershire website: www.fastershire.com and Fastershire’s Facebook page: facebook.com/fastershire

The £56.6 million Fastershire project is a partnership between Herefordshire Council, Gloucestershire County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. It aims to make faster, fibre broadband available to around 90 per cent of Herefordshire homes and businesses by the end of 2016.

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