Full speed ahead! Telford and Wrekin village partners with BT to bring home the broadband
EVENT: Villagers and parish councillors will join representatives from BT and UK Coal to celebrate the arrival of super-fast fibre broadband in the village of Little Wenlock and to perform the ceremonial ‘switch on’ of the new fibre cabinet, which will connect each of its 100-plus premises onto the network.
As a result of an innovative community initiative with BT and UK Coal, villagers are now able to access some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country.
There will be the opportunity to interview, photograph and film:
• John Marcham, who spearheaded the community broadband project;
• Ian Binks, BT’s regional manager for Shropshire and the West Midlands;
• Louise Pennells, one of the first villagers to connect to the new network;
• Openreach engineer giving an insight into how the new technology works.
DATE: Tuesday, October 15. TIME: 2.30pm.
VENUE: Little Wenlock village hall, Malthouse Bank, Little Wenlock, Shropshire, TF6 5BN.
Please confirm you are attending by ringing Emma Tennant on 0800 085 0660 or 07850 732481 or John Marcham on 01952 505734.
Broadband-hungry internet enthusiasts in a tiny Telford and Wrekin village are now enjoying some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country after spearheading what is believed to
be the first community project of its kind in the West Midlands.
When residents in Little Wenlock heard their village was unlikely to get super-fast fibre broadband as part of any commercial rollout or local authority upgrade, they decided to
look for an alternative route onto the information superhighway.
Little Wenlock had not been included in BT’s fibre rollout plans because the economics of delivering fibre to this small community were too challenging. However, the proximity of the village to the local telephone exchange at Dawley – which BT had already upgraded to fibre broadband – and the additional cash raised by the villagers, helped BT to build a case for bringing fibre to the locality.
Work on the ambitious project began around 18 months ago after villagers and parish councillors secured more than £30,000 from UK Coal’s Community Fund* with additional funds from Openreach, BT’s network business.
Following a period of planning and surveys, engineers began the task of laying more than 2,700 metres of fibre optic cable to make the new network available to each of the village’s 100 premises.
Support from Telford and Wrekin Council’s highways department ensured challenging timescales were met and disruption to motorists and residents kept to a minimum whenever any road closures were required.
The first villagers are now logging onto download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.
The network built by Openreach is open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis, with around 80 offering or trialling fibre broadband.
John Marcham, parish clerk, who spearheaded the project to bring fibre broadband to Little Wenlock, said: “Today marks a major milestone for us here in Little Wenlock. We’re all very excited and looking forward to enjoying the many benefits of the new technology.”
Louise Pennells, one of the first villagers to get connected to the new fibre network, said: “Now there’s no waiting for minutes to download files and no longer any buffering when I try to view a clip or a programme. It was so frustrating before – now everything works in a instant.”
Her teenage son, Harry, was equally enthusiastic: “It’s great – so cool to be able to use the internet as it’s meant to be,” he added.
Ian Binks, BT’s regional manager for Shropshire and the West Midlands, said: “The people of Little Wenlock are true trail-blazers and are setting the pace for rural communities with this exciting partnership. They have worked tirelessly to get this ambitious project off the ground. Their enthusiasm and commitment is infectious and we’re pleased to be working in partnership with them.
“This project has not been without its engineering challenges due to the rural location however working together we got all the work done.
“Elsewhere we’re continuing to work with other local authorities and communities to make high-speed broadband available in the more challenging areas of the UK.”
Note to Editors
Openreach, BT’s network business, is investing £2.5 billion to bring super-fast fibre broadband to two-thirds of the UK’s homes and businesses by the end of Spring 2014, of which more than 121,000 are in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin.
This commercial investment by BT is in addition to the Connecting Shropshire partnership between the company and Shropshire Council, which seeks to make fast, affordable fibre broadband to around 93 per cent of Shropshire homes and businesses by the end of Spring 2016. (This excludes Telford and Wrekin).
*UK Coal set up a Community Fund in 2009 to support community projects in the vicinity of its surface mine near Little Wenlock. The fund is administered locally by a committee of residents, councillors and officers from Telford and Wrekin Council. Since then around 20 local community projects have been supported.