Village community benefits from full fibre
Residents and businesses in the rural Huntingdonshire village of Spaldwick are reaping the benefits of upgrading to gigabit broadband speeds after using the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to fund the installation of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to the majority of premises.
Local broadband champions Mark Heath and Jason Patel led a successful community fibre partnership with Openreach, gaining the support of a high percentage of local households and overcoming challenges to bring gigabit-capable fibre broadband to the village in July 2021.
Spaldwick was one of the first places in Cambridgeshire to go live with superfast broadband via Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) in July 2014 through the Connecting Cambridgeshire rollout programme, with record take-up by over 70% of residents. However, some parts of the village had slower, less reliable broadband speeds due to their distance from the fibre cabinet via copper lines.
As a growing community with a mix of family housing, home-based businesses and city commuters, there was increasing demand for high-speed internet access to support modern lifestyles – with the capacity for multiple devices running at once for remote working, online shopping, streaming entertainment and socialising.
Connecting Cambridgeshire proactively supported the village’s broadband champions in setting up a community fibre partnership with Openreach, which involved listing eligible premises for the Gigabit Voucher Scheme and encouraging enough residents to apply to secure sufficient funding to install FTTP.
The tenacious broadband champions used their village website, local newsletters and meetings to highlight the benefits of full fibre to gain villagers’ support for the scheme. However, it took over 18 months to complete the complex process, which proved challenging at times.
Having got the full fibre installed, the champions have continued advising residents on ordering FTTP with their chosen Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and ensuring they get gigabit speeds (up to 700Mbps) with good Wifi coverage, which is not automatic. Mark Heath provides useful guides on how to achieve this on his website www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk
Mark Heath, award-winning broadband champion, said: “Fibre to the Premises has transformed the village by giving every single building the opportunity to reliably access ultrafast speeds up to 900 Mbps. Those who have already taken up FTTP are reporting improved reliability and much faster speeds at affordable prices. For example, my next-door neighbour is delighted that he has doubled his speeds while saving £3 per month.
“Fibre broadband makes a massive difference for people who put the time and effort in to get it right. Most won’t notice the difference now, as improved speed is taken for granted to run multiple devices, but will benefit from improved reliability and having the gigabit technology in place for future developments.”