News that a scheme designed to help those struggling with the slowest broadband speeds is being extended has been welcomed by residents, suppliers and councils in Dorset. The Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme provides up to GBP350 towards the cost of an improved internet connection for those unable to get download speeds of at least 2Mbps (megabits per second). Originally due to finish at the end of 2017, the Government recently announced the popular scheme has been extended until the end of 2018.
Almost 500 Dorset homes and businesses have already had their broadband speeds boosted through the initiative, including many in rural and the hardest to reach areas. Colin Taylor of Pentridge in East Dorset said: “We live in a small village with limited speed fixed line internet and no access to cable. The Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme enabled us to get a fast efficient internet service at a reasonable price.”
Mr Taylor’s wireless broadband service is provided by Dorset-based Wessex Internet. Managing Director Hector Gibson Fleming said: “We have helped over 400 people use the better broadband voucher to get access to superfast internet. It’s great to see this proactive government scheme making such a difference to customers who suffer terrible speeds on their copper connection.”
The Superfast Dorset team based at Dorset County Council manages the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme locally. Daryl Turner, Dorset County Council Cabinet Member for the Natural and Built Environment, said: “This is very good news. Current commercial and Superfast Dorset fibre roll-out plans will leave around two per cent of Dorset premises without access to a faster connection.
But there is more to do to get decent broadband to all. “Technologies such as fixed wireless, mobile 4G and satellite broadband can already serve most premises. This scheme helps those outside our plans and with the slowest connections to improve their connection today.”
Around 96 per cent of premises in the county now have access to superfast broadband – defined as download speeds of 24Mbps or more. The Superfast Dorset programme has played a major part in this success, building 620 roadside cabinets and other structures, providing 82,212 premises with access to superfast broadband. Around 43 per cent who can take a fibre broadband service have done so.
Simon Hoare MP is backing a new bill that should benefit rural areas including his North Dorset constituency. He praised the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill in the House of Commons. During the debate he said small shire districts that areaways seeking to be more efficient would benefit greatly from the bill.
He said: “It will be absolutely crucial for the farmer in my constituency who is trying to buy or sell stock and make their submission to the Rural Payments Agency to have fast, reliable broadband of a speed and regularity of service.”
He said it was also important for delivery services in rural areas that are not particularly well served by rural public transport.
Mr Hoare also highlighted the advantages for tourism with promotion of hotel and pub rooms, visitor attractions and interactive tourist information centres in areas where local authorities have reduced support and services.
He pointed out the benefits made possible in education and the advantages of receiving faster films and sports coverage.
Mr Hoare suggested to fellow MPs that they “remind ourselves of the most enormous strides made in broadband provision for all our constituents and constituencies, urban and rural.”
A new community fund will help Dorset neighbourhoods where there are currently no plans for high-speed internet access.
The Superfast Dorset Community Broadband Fund has been set up to support the small number of areas not currently included in any superfast roll-out plans. The ?500,000 scheme enables Superfast Dorset to co-invest with communities by match funding up to half the costs of bringing faster broadband to their neighbourhood. More than 95 per cent of Dorset premises can now take a superfast fibre broadband service – defined as download speeds of 24Mbps or greater.
Cllr Daryl Turner, Dorset County Council1 Cabinet Member for the Natural and Built Environment, said: “Current commercial and Superfast Dorset fibre roll-out plans will leave around just two per cent of Dorset premises without access to a faster connection.
“Technologies such as fixed wireless and satellite broadband can already serve most premises, but we know that some communities would rather pay a share of the costs to bring a superfast fibre solution to their area.
“That’s why we have set up the Superfast Dorset Community Broadband Fund. It allows us to provide the same level of public funding to communities which aren’t included in our fibre roll-out plans.”
Superfast broadband helps make everything happen online much faster than a standard broadband connection. The technology offers download speeds typically several times faster than standard broadband.
- Everyone can be online at the same time
- Download and watch TV and films without buffering
- Make video calls
- Work from home with a faster, more reliable connection
Fibre can now cost the same or less than standard broadband. But speeds don’t improve automatically. Residents and businesses must contact their chosen service provider and ask to switch to fibre broadband to get the faster connection. Check if your property can get fibre or is included in current roll-out plans at www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/superfast. You can also sign up for regular project updates and to receive an email when fibre arrives in your area.
Superfast Dorset is a partnership between BT, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership, Dorset County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, the Borough of Poole, Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council3, West Dorset District Council4 and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council. The project brings superfast broadband to areas not covered by the commercial roll-out undertaken by BT, Virgin Media and others. Superfast Dorset has already enabled more than 570 roadside fibre broadband cabinets across the county, delivering superfast fibre broadband to more than 80,000 properties.