Northamptonshire village raises thousands of pounds for new fibre broadband network

Ashley villagers collect £15,000 in just 4 weeks to sign contract with BT 

Residents in the Northamptonshire village of Ashley have raised £15,000 in just four weeks to guarantee themselves access to high-speed fibre broadband next year.

The small rural community of around 120 households has signed a contract with BT to install a new fibre broadband cabinet and underground cable. The network build and installation work will be done by Openreach, the local access network division of BT.
Owen Moody, East Midlands regional director for BT, which has also invested in the project, 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.

“The community of Ashley has shown great vision in coming together and seizing this one-off opportunity to connect to the fibre broadband network. It is a major step forward for the village. Whatever you do on-line you can do it better with fibre broadband. A new fibre customer joins the Openreach network every 22 seconds, 24 hours a day and we look forward to bringing this new technology into Ashley during 2015.”

The Ashley Broadband Fundraising Campaign was launched by a group of villagers and gathered the financial support of 80 per cent of residents to work with BT.

Stephen Castens from the Ashley Broadband Fundraising Campaign said: “Broadband speeds are extremely important in a rural community such as Ashley. Villagers recognise the importance of being connected to the fibre network and we quickly established widespread support for signing a contract with BT.

“We are looking forward to the work being completed during Spring 2015 and some of the reasons provided for wanting to contract with BT included minimum disruption around the village, a choice of national communication providers and overall trust in BT's ability to deliver and support.”

The Ashley Broadband Fundraising Campaign also received backing from thirteen small businesses in the village who said ‘certainty of outcome, plus continuing choice of their own provider and monthly charges’ were their major considerations.

Adrian Forsell, who lives in Ashley and is a director for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: "The lack of availability of high speed fibre broadband is one of the biggest barriers facing small businesses in rural areas. I'm pleased to say this will no longer be the case in Ashley and life will be very different for those wishing to work from home or base their small business within the village. The faster download speeds this new technology brings will open up many new possibilities making local businesses more productive, efficient and able to complete on a level playing field with competitors."

Work is expected to get underway in the coming months and it’s estimated that Ashely will be connected to the fibre broadband network during Spring 2015.

The contract between Ashley residents and BT is separate to the Superfast Northamptonshire project between Northamptonshire County Council and BT.

Superfast Northamptonshire has already provided more than 36,000 homes and businesses with access to fibre broadband, installed more than 149 green roadside cabinets and laid over 265kms of new fibre optic cables.

It builds upon BT’s commercial rollout in the county which has already made fibre broadband available to 176,000 homes and businesses.

For more information on the Ashley broadband contract visit the village website at www.ashleyvillage.co.uk.

For more information about the Superfast Northamptonshire project visitwww.superfastnorthamptonshire.net