Northamptonshire village raises £15k to get fibre broadband from BT

A fibre optic broadband tug of war between BT and rural fibre-to-the-premises provider Gigaclear in the Northamptonshire village of Ashley seems to have ended in victory for the former after BT encouraged the community to raise £15,000.

This contribution to installation costs means villagers and local businesses will be able to get superfast broadband. A contract with Openreach, the division of BT that manages the national communications network, to install underground fibre optic infrastructure and a new street cabinet has now been agreed.

The money was raised in just four weeks by 80% of residents and 13 small local businesses, and it will see them receive fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband - that's where fibre optic cables are laid up to the street cabinet, but copper wire phone lines complete the connection to individual properties - that offers download speeds of up to 80Mb.

The news is a blow to Gigaclear, which had hoped to bring its "pure fibre" broadband - that's where the fibre optic cable connects directly to properties, making the broadband faster - to the village. Four weeks ago Gigaclear said Ashley was on its 'target list' for the roll-out of its 1,000Mb fibre optic broadband, but the case for investment has been weakened with fibre optic broadband from other providers now due to be available there.

Ashley had to raise its own cash to get BT to provide fibre because it isn't part of the area's partnership between government superfast broadband investment programme Broadband Delivery UK and BT, Superfast Northamptonshire. This was one of the reasons why Gigaclear was targeting the village.

The money raised by the Ashley Broadband Fundraising Campaign - BT has also put money in, but hasn't said how much - will see all 120 homes in the village get fibre optic broadband in the "coming months".

Owen Moody, east Midlands regional director for BT, said: "We welcome the opportunity to work with local communities, such as Ashley, so that they can benefit from fibre broadband. The fact that this will be an 'open' network available to all broadband service providers on an equal basis ensures the villagers will have access to highly competitive pricing and products from a wide range of providers."

To find out if you can get fibre optic broadband, bang your postcode into a broadband price comparison site like this one. If you can't, don't despair - the government is aiming for it to be available to 95% of the UK by the end of 2017, so if you can't get it now there's a good chance it's on the way.

Source: ISP Review

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