Coleford kicks off switch to high speed broadband

The first rural community in Gloucestershire will have the opportunity to make the switch to high-speed fibre broadband this week as part of the county’s multi-million pound Fastershire project. 

Fibre broadband is set to arrive in Coleford in the Forest of Dean – marking a key milestone for the project and giving 5,000 local residents and businesses the chance to take advantage of the new technology once the roll-out is completed in the coming months. 

Gloucester town crier and holder of the world record for the loudest ‘oyez, oyez, oyez’, Alan Myatt, will announce the arrival of the new technology and there will be the opportunity to visit a newly enabled fibre broadband roadside cabinet in the town centre. 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, and BT’s regional manager for the south west, Michael Dunn, will be on hand and available for interviews and photos. 

Coleford is the first rural community in Gloucestershire to have access to the high-speed service, with a scheduled roll-out to follow as part of the £56.6 million Fastershire project, a partnership between Gloucestershire County Council, Herefordshire Council and BT, with additional funding from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme. 

More communities are expected to go live by the end of the year including Cinderford, Drybrook and Lydbrook and Lechlade. People can check the Fastershire website to see whether it’s available for them by logging onto www.fastershire.com. 

Cllr Mark Hawthorne said: “This is great news for Coleford. Faster broadband will give local people a wealth of new opportunities, whether in accessing local services or seeking out education and training opportunities. For businesses, it offers the potential to expand, create jobs, and work more efficiently. 

“This is a fantastic milestone for the project and a sign of things to come across the more rural areas of the county.” 
Fastershire will take the technology to around 90 per cent* of premises in Gloucestershire by the end of 2015. The project is building on BT’s own commercial roll-out which has already made fibre broadband available to 129,000 homes and businesses in Gloucestershire, rising to 142,000 once the roll-out is completed. 

Michael Dunn, BT’s south west regional manager, added: “A lot of planning and building work has gone in to get us to where we are today and Coleford is just the start of this exciting journey. 

“This project will have a hugely positive impact on rural as well as urban communities in Gloucestershire. High-speed fibre is increasingly important if local households and businesses are to make the most of the huge range of opportunities offered by the internet, whether they are seeking to start a new business, find new customers, undertake online training or simply wishing to browse for entertainment or leisure purposes.” 

Openreach’s network is open to communications providers on an equal basis**, so people in Coleford can order the service they want from a range of fibre broadband providers to enjoy a far superior internet experience. 

It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, while opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households. 
Fibre broadband benefits include users being able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. 

Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using ‘cloud computing’ technology. There will be faster back-up of computer systems and wider use of high quality videoconferencing within businesses and between them and their customers. 

More detailed information on the roll-out is available at the Fastershire website, www.fastershire.com . 

Notes to editors 
* When adding the contract area to BT’s own commercial roll-out, this will deliver access to fibre broadband to 90% of premises across Gloucestershire. 

**Openreach provides external CPs (Communications Providers) with a variety of ways in which they can offer fibre broadband to their customers. These include an ‘active’ product – GEA – which comes in various speed combinations and a ‘passive’ product – PIA – whereby CPs can lay their own fibre via our ducts and poles if they want greater control over the service they offer. 

About Superfast Britain 
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements: 
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017 
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities 
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services 
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life. For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk