A group of properties along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast are to get some of the fastest internet connections in the UK.
With advice from the Superfast Dorset project, people living and working in Coast Road – a stunning but isolated location between Burton Bradstock and Abbotsbury - have tapped into Government money to future proof their broadband.
On learning that they fell outside any commercial or publicly-funded plans for faster internet, locals applied to the national Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which funds full fibre connections for businesses and the homes around them. Their chosen network provider Openreach will contribute funding as part of its Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) programme.
Openreach engineers will now extend fibre-optic cables from the exchange direct to properties in the area giving access to ultrafast download speeds of up to 1 Gbps (gigabit per second) – more than 300 times faster than their current connections and fast enough to stream 200 HD Netflix movies simultaneously.
The Othona Community in Coast Road has been offering retreats, courses and holidays-in-community since 1965. Its visitors come from all over the UK and some from overseas.
Tony Jaques, who has overseen the growth of the community since 1995, said: "Until I arrived there wasn't a single computer on site! And we still have an emphasis on trying to live simply. But today, of course, our good administration and communication relies on internet connection.
"To be honest, as a small business and a charity we really struggle with the existing copper network. So to have fibre-optics all the way to our buildings will be a dream come true. And help from public funding makes sense. Without it businesses like ours in outlying areas just get left behind.”
Under the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of gigabit-capable (1,000 megabit) internet connections, either individually or as part of a group.
Residents can benefit from the scheme too if they are part of a group project which also includes businesses, and can claim a voucher with a value of up to £500.
The scheme is only accessible through broadband service providers. More details and a list of locally active suppliers can be seen at dorsetforyou.gov.uk/superfast
Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership programme is designed to help people in places not included in any current roll-out plans to bring fibre broadband to their local area, working with Openreach to co-fund the installation.
Emma Howarth, Programme Director for Openreach, said: “I’m delighted that we’ll be able to help the process of bringing ultrafast broadband to Coast Road.”
“Partnerships like this help us bring high-speed connections to those areas that broadband providers, for a variety of reasons, struggle to upgrade alone.
“That’s why we’re investing in hundreds of similar community projects across the UK, working in partnership with businesses, schools and residential communities to deliver faster speeds from a wide choice of competing service providers.”
The UK-wide CFP programme is bringing fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas with more than 30,000 UK households and businesses already able to benefit from faster speeds. The figure is expected to double to 60,000 within 12 months.
Across the UK, more than 600 CFP schemes have already been agreed, with upgrades complete in more than 200 communities. Once Openreach has installed the infrastructure, residents can place an order for the new faster services with a provider of their choice.
Daryl Turner, Dorset County Council Cabinet Member for the Natural and Built Environment, said: “I’m pleased we have been able to support these homes and businesses, who can look forward to the very fastest internet speeds.
“Of course, around 96 per cent of properties in Dorset can already access superfast broadband - download speeds of 24 Mbps or more. But to benefit you have to contact an internet provider and ask to switch to fibre broadband.”
To check fibre broadband availability at your property and see the options if you are outside current plans visit dorsetforyou.gov.uk/superfast
To find out more about Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership programme visit https://communityfibre.openreach.co.uk/
Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.
We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, 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 Britain can be connected.
We work on behalf of more than 600 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.
We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.
Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under the same prices, terms and conditions.
For the year ended 31 March 2018, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.
For more information, visit openreach.co.uk