The historic village of Lillingstone Lovell in Buckinghamshire has become the latest community to join Openreach’s co-funding scheme – bringing the total number of homes and businesses to benefit from high speed connectivity under the programme to 100,000.
Residents in the remote Buckinghamshire village, which is named in the Domesday Book, will soon be able to enjoy some of the fastest and most reliable broadband speeds in the country thanks to the company’s Community Fibre Partnership (CFP), which has already connected more than 900 similar projects across the UK.
The cost of the Lillingstone CFP will be covered by a combination of investment from Openreach and the residents themselves, who are the first community to fund their contribution with vouchers as part of the Government’s new £200 million UK-wide Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) Programme.[i]
Openreach engineers have now started planning and surveying work ahead of building the new network to the village’s 55 premises, which includes five farms and more than 20 small businesses – using the latest ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology. And once built, the network will provide broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps – enough bandwidth for a family of four to all stream ultra HD or 4k quality movies or TV simultaneously, without waiting or buffering.
Once Openreach has installed the infrastructure, residents will be able to place an order for the new faster services with a service provider of their choice.
Across the UK, 930 communities have now signed up to the CFP programme – with more than half of them now switched on to high speed broadband. The scheme is available to any community and has been particularly appealing to those properties that have not been not included in any existing private or publicly subsidised upgrade schemes.
A recent independent report estimated that the scheme generates, on average, around £800,000 of benefits to each community and increases the value of an average property by around £1,700.
Lillingstone is one of the first to communities to benefit from the new RGC vouchers, which were launched in May this year. Rural premises with broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps can use vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), and up to £1,500 per residential premise, to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections. The Lillingstone co-funding agreement also includes a £30,000 Grant from BT Group.
Broadcast media consultant Alison Walsh, who led the bidding process on behalf of the village, said that ultrafast broadband would be ‘transformational’ for the whole village.
Alison said: “I think it will make the village feel a really different place. People were ecstatic when they heard we could get fibre. I think some people still can’t quite believe it is going to happen. People are just delighted.
“The whole village has been struggling with really slow speeds for years. Using the internet for anything is a daily battle. We have a number of young families here and the kids find it difficult to do their homework because so much of it is done online. You can forget things like Netflix and Amazon Prime, they’re just beyond us at the moment. Even just paying for things online can take several attempts.
“There are a number of farms in the community and more than 20 businesses including an equestrian event business, a picture framer, a design consultancy and a B&B. The working farms now do a lot of their business online – from registering their animals to doing their accounts and selling farm produce, so having ultrafast broadband will be a huge boost for them.
“A lot of other people also work from home, but before being able to get faster broadband I think many were on the verge of giving up. We’ve already had one lady move away with her family because her husband was trying to run his own business from home, so they moved to another village where they had better speeds. There’s lots of families that have been here for a long time, children who’ve grown up here and started their own families. Hopefully having the ultrafast speed will help sustain the life of the village for many more generations.”
Minister for Digital Margot James said: “We are working with industry to prioritise rural areas first as we build a nationwide full fibre broadband network and a Britain that is fit for the future. Community partnerships and the Government's broadband connection vouchers are playing an important role in delivering this and I congratulate Openreach on reaching this milestone."
Kim Mears, Managing Director of Strategic Infrastructure Development for Openreach, said: “Lillingstone Lovell is a fantastic example of how our UK-wide Community Fibre Partnership programme is bringing fast, reliable broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas, where other providers struggle to reach.
“We’ve been clear that we’ll never say no to any community that wants better, fibre broadband connectivity – and we’ll work with them to find a way forward even if the costs don’t stack up for a commercial or government-backed upgrade. We hope that the success of this programme will encourage even more communities to work with us.”
The work in Lillingstone is a further boost for Buckinghamshire, where close to 95 per cent of homes and businesses can already access fibre broadband with speeds of 30Mbps and above.
For further information
Notes to Editors
i RuralGigabit Connectivity Voucher Scheme
Launched in May 2019 the nationwide Rural Gigabit Connectivity scheme (RGC) will be run in conjunction with the Government’s current £67m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.
The RGC scheme is part of the Government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme. Business and residents in some of the hardest-to-reach places in the UK are eligible for additional funding towards the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband to their premises when part of a group project.
It will support defined rural areas (by postcode in all parts of the UK) with existing speeds of less than 30Mbps.
Vouchers are worth up to £3,500 for a small or medium sized business or up to £1,500 for residents to help with the costs of connecting to full fibre broadband.
Unlike previous schemes, there is no ratio between SME and residential vouchers.
This scheme will run in conjunction with the current Gigabit Voucher Scheme.
Funding for these vouchers forms part of the Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) Programme which is a two year, £200 million UK-wide Government programme focused on rural areas in the UK.
How it works
Businesses and residents can only get vouchers from suppliers who are registered with the scheme. Suppliers can offer vouchers to both new and existing customers. Openreach is a registered supplier.
There is no ratio between a small to medium sized enterprise (SME) and Residential vouchers, unlike previous schemes, so a group of residents can benefit from this voucher scheme without the inclusion of an SME, should they wish.
Residents and businesses must participate in a group scheme, 2 or more, and are able to join together to pool the value of their vouchers, which works well to the CFP model.
Qualifying businesses and residents will have a current connection speed of below 30Mbps.
Qualifying businesses and residents must upgrade to a service of greater than 30Mbps to redeem their vouchers, once the full fibre infrastructure is in place.
Anyone interested in the voucher schemes should go to https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk/rural/
to check if they are eligible and then look up their local suppliers registered to the scheme and contact them for further details.
Applications for this grant are now closed as the funding is all currently allocated. BT Group dedicated £2m to award as grants to communities with a school or charity to enable superfast, or ultrafast access in the classroom as well as at home and in the community.The grant has helped over 12,000 homes and businesses connect to Fibre broadband. The last money will be spent by Dec this year.
Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.
We’re 33,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world.
Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected.
We work on behalf of more than 620 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, BT and Zen, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27.5m UK premises
Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £13 billion into our network and, at more than 173 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,314 times.
Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re on track to reach four million premises with this ‘full fibre’ technology by March 2021 and ultimately, we want to upgrade the majority of the UK if the conditions are right. We’re also hiring around 3,000 trainee engineers this year to help us build that network and deliver better service across the country.
Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed division of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions.
For the year ended 31 March 2019, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.
For more information, visit openreach.co.uk