SLOW broadband could soon be a thing of the past, with more than 8,000 county homes and businesses soon to have access to some of the fastest speeds in the country. It comes after Herefordshire Council1 signed a contract with Gigaclear to deliver phase two of the Fastershire project – which will see a new full fibre network across Herefordshire. Gigaclear specialises in connecting rural communities by installing pure fibre straight into the home, which should offer a future-proof solution and broadband speeds of up to 1000Mbps.
It is hoped this will enable some of the hardest to reach homes and businesses across the county to have access to ultrafast broadband. The phase two rollout will build on what has already been achieved in phase one of the project, with more than 30,000 premises in the county now able to access a superfast broadband service. As part of the national government and Herefordshire Council funding, this new deployment aims to support the economic vitality and sustain thriving communities across the county and is in addition to BT’s delivery of fibre broadband in more urban areas.
Leader of Herefordshire Council, Councillor Tony Johnson, said: “This is a major step forward, not only will more communities and businesses have access to fast and reliable internet, but Fastershire is starting to lead the UK in the rollout of full fibre. We’re committed to ensuring that Herefordshire has a broadband network that will benefit the county for many years to come.”
Joe Frost, from Gigaclear, added that the firm was ‘delighted’ to be working with Herefordshire Council, connecting more than 8,000 additional homes and businesses to our ultrafast pure fibre network.
“Work is due to start this summer and there is no doubt that this will continue to be socially and economically transformative for the most isolated, rural areas of Herefordshire,” he said. Fastershire has a further contract to award to cover Hereford city and is expected to be announced in June.
More information about phase 2 can be found on the Fastershire website at fastershire.com
“We, with council backing, have already invested in ducting, around 4.5 km so far, in preparation for fibre based broadband services to be installed. ITS will add to that network, and install fibre through it to provide services to customers. Businesses need superfast and ultrafast broadband if they are to compete with other companies across the globe.
It helps level a playing field for our investors, many of whom are dealing in complex and sensitive information, which they need to share across multiple sites around the UK and the world in different time zones. They simply cannot wait for hours to download or upload data. Bill Jackson, Chairman of the Enterprise Zone
Speeds of 30 Mbps through to Gigabit via a FTTP deployment are set to be available, and the park already seems to have good FTTC coverage via several cabinets installed in the business park as part of the BDUK projects and we are seeing the odd speed test from an Airband customer with upload speeds above what VDSL2 can offer.
Of course like other business premises around the UK ethernet and leased line services are available. Though costs of around ?900/m for 100 Mbps guaranteed and rising to over ?6000/m if you need a guaranteed symmetric 1000 Mbps, lower prices are available e.g.
300 Mbps with burst to 1000 Mbps is ?2,400/m will only appeal to businesses where Internet access is critical to day to day operations. We assume then that the driver is that ITS Technology Group are aiming to significantly undercut existing Ethernet type pricing.
For those consumers with Gigabit connections the business price for Gigabit may be a shock, but Ethernet/leased line services can very different guarantees as to the performance at peak times, hence the higher pricing.
Joe Deverell uses his broadband internet connection to monitor the cows at his farm Photo: James Flynn/APX
Ireland’s rural broadband network can be built out sooner than the Government’s 2022 timetable, according to the country’s biggest telecoms operators. More than 500,000 rural households could be connected to fibre-speed services in “under three years” once a rollout is greenlighted by the Government.
“Once the contract is signed, we can do anything if we put our mind to it,” Vodafone Ireland chief executive Anne O’Leary told the Irish Independent. “We can certainly do it within three years.”
Vodafone and the ESB are jointly bidding to build the State’s National Broadband Plan, which aims to connect every rural household and business to fibre-speed broadband by 2022. But business and community organisations say that 2022 is far too late if rural areas want to attract investment and stop depopulation.
A faster process could see all rural homes and businesses given state-subsidised access to adequate broadband by 2020 or before. “We think it’s possible,” said Conal Henry, the chief executive of Enet. “You’d need to be careful but we’ve looked at the figures and it’s possible.”
Enet, which is currently building fibre broadband networks around regional towns, is also a bidder for the National Broadband Plan contract. A spokesman for Eir, which is a favourite to win the rural broadband rollout contract, declined to comment specifically on timing. However, Eir is thought to be ready to tell the Government that it can complete the vast majority of the rural network in under three years if it wins the state tender. Other bidders for the process say that rural homes need not wait until 2022.
“It can be done quicker,” said Brian O’Donohoe, managing director of Imagine, one of the companies bidding for the state-subsidised project.
“It does depend on what sort of solution you go for. But if involves a combination of fibre and fast wireless, it can definitely be done much faster.”
The National Broadband Plan contract was due to be awarded this year. However, the new Government has confirmed that it won’t now formally award the contract until June 2017. The Government’s timeframe currently allows for a 2022 completion of the rural broadband network, barring further delays. The state project promises to connect every rural household and business to fibre-speed broadband.
Earlier this month, the UK government announced that it was introducing a legal right to broadband access for all British households, regardless of where a dwelling is located. Now, rural organisations say that such a law, which was also introduced in Spain, Switzerland and Finland, should be brought in here.
“It’s one of the only ways to insure that broadband is actually rolled out to rural regions,” said S amus Boland, chief executive of Irish Rural Link which represents 500 community groups around the country.
“We’ve seen a big shift in broadband rollout deadlines over the last 10 years, partly because the ultimate pressure of a legislative right is not there.”
The call for such a legal right is being backed by some of Ireland’s biggest telecoms companies.
“I’m 100pc supportive of it,” said Conal Henry, the Enet’s chief executive. He added: “There should be one universal services obligation and it should be broadband.”
A legal right to broadband now “makes sense,” said Vodafone Ireland’s chief executive, Anne O’Leary. “You have a right to electricity. So it’s a fair enough request. However, it depends on how it’s done.”
In Ireland, every home currently has a legal right to access a telephone line, but this excludes broadband or mobile services. The Government currently classifies broadband as an “intervention” service, rather than a legal right.
Case study: ‘I use cameras linked to my phone to monitor the herd’
Getting access to wireless broadband three years ago has been a huge boost for Joe Deverell and his large pedigree farm in Geashill, near Tullamore in Co Offaly. The farm focuses on Hereford cows, beef sucklers and tillage and has a 400-strong herd.
“We had dial-up prior to that and we couldn’t believe the difference, we went from 1mg to 5mg of data,” he says. Mr Deverell now utilises his internet connection to run cameras, monitoring his herd.
“We have cameras set up in the shed for calving and one in the yard for security.
We can check that on the phone.
“It’s so handy we can check it from anywhere when you are on the go and at night.”
Mr Deverell says the Department of Agriculture has an excellent website, but many farmers do not have the broadband capabilities to make use of it.
“It’s essential for us. Day to day, there are a lot of things we need to do online, from calf registration to motor tax renewal to online forms.”
From next year, basic payment scheme applications must also be completed online. As a pedigree breeder, the internet also proves essential to Mr Deverell for farm-to-farm sales.
“If we are selling bulls to another farm, we can do all the paperwork online there and then when they come to collect the bull. It has cut out so much paperwork.
“I see it as important as rolling out the telephone was in the 1960s. From my own point of view, it has cut down on the paperwork significantly.
“Even having to post forms, it was all a cost.
It’s the same as electrification and the modern phone system – this needs to be rolled out,” he adds.