Back row, from left: F4RN members Paul Newton, David Colbeck, Jez Major, Steve Dickman, Peter Wheeldon. Front row: Ben Issott
A community group has worked with Network Rail to provide a better broadband service to villagers.
The Fibre for Rural Nottinghamshire (F4RN) group was set up after residents in Fiskerton cum Morton were told they would be left out of a county superfast broadband scheme. The ongoing work, involving a management team and other volunteers, has now connected around 120 households. Having previously used Wifi to beam the signal across the railway line via dishes at Fiskerton, the team worked with Network Rail to physically connect it.
It now runs underneath the line and will provide faster speeds to those connected in the village. Mr Ted Ward, from F4RN, said: “It allows us to get fibre further and further into the village. “Properties will now be able to receive better speeds and a better service.
“I would hope that by this time next year we would have at least 200 households connected. “In such a rural area there is a lot of digging trenches and working with people in the village.
‘Quite a logistical exercise’
“Some of the work has taken place in farmers’ fields. They have been extremely co-operative but we have been delayed because in some cases we couldn’t go across a field because it had yet to be harvested.
“The whole project has been quite a logistical exercise. “But it’s important that we do it because we want to have the vibrancy of young families coming into the village. Many of them think of broadband as a utility now, so connecting properties means that this has been a worthwhile exercise.”
On one recent weekend, the team installed more than 1,100 metres of fibre in a single day. The group set up after raising GBP115,000 through community internet shares. Their eventual aim is to connect all 370 households in both villages.
The scheme has involved building a wireless network directly to properties. The team will then overlay the network with fibre to increase performance. Wireless broadband is delivered through radio waves while fibre optic signal is transmitted along the fibre using light so there is no reduction in speed or quality depending on how far away the house is.
The monthly subscription for homes in the villages is GBP36 per household.
About 1,600 new homes in Nottinghamshire will have access to some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK following a deal between BT’s network installation service Openreach and housing developers. Openreach will build fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology capable of ultrafast speeds up to one gigabit per second (Gbps) for properties located on major new housing developments in Beeston, Hucknall, Radcliffe-on-Trent and Worksop. The agreements are part of an Openreach initiative agreed with the Government and the Home Builders Foundation to connect all new housing projects of 30 or more properties with ultrafast fibre broadband.
As well as schemes in Nottinghamshire, the company has made FTTP technology available to more than 2,000 new developments nationwide, covering more than a quarter of a million premises, since the partnership launched last year.
Kim Mears, managing director of infrastructure delivery at Openreach, said: “An ultrafast broadband network will be a major boost for these sites by ensuring that people living and working there have quick access to some of the fastest speeds available. “It reflects our commitment to ensuring that Nottinghamshire and the UK has a first-class network, capable of delivering the latest communication services for households, businesses and other organisations.
An engineer working on a broadband cabinet for BT’s Openreach
“We know that people are passionate about the speed and reliability of the broadband service their communication provider can offer them and that, for some, the availability of ultrafast speeds will strongly influence their decision on which new property to buy.” Craig Ferrans, technical director for the Home Builders Federation, added: “The amount consumers are doing online and at the same time, from streaming high-definition moves and TV, gaming, online shopping to using mobile devices over wireless broadband, is growing every year and this pace shows no signs of slowing.
“That’s why it’s great to see developers across Nottinghamshire teaming up with Openreach to provide future-proofed ultrafast full fibre access to thousands of new homes in the county. “With housing supply increasing at unprecedented rates, and more people purchasing newly built homes, improving connectivity for new homes will help to accelerate the country’s digital revolution.”
Earlier this year, Nottinghamshire County Council called on developers and district planners to ensure every new home in the county was “future proofed” with superfast broadband access – after it emerged that hundreds of homes built in the past five years had no high-speed broadband provision. Leader Kay Cutts welcomed the Openreach deal, saying: “We rely on the internet so much now that homeowners rank good quality broadband alongside other utilities like gas, electricity and water.
“I am delighted that these developments will benefit from the latest fibre-to-the-premises technology, which will make them very attractive to people wanting to live and work in Nottinghamshire.” As part of plans to make ultrafast broadband speeds available to 12 million homes and businesses by 2020, Openreach will now build an FTTP network for free to all new housing developments with 30 or more homes. This is dependent on developers registering their site with Openreach and working together early in the building process.
Openreach has promised to connect new homes within nine months of contracting with a developer.
Any developments with two or more homes will have access to the company’s existing or planned fibre infrastructure, either funded entirely by Openreach or, where necessary, with the help of co-funding from the developer.
A community group working to connect households to superfast broadband has been congratulated for its efforts. The community initiative in Fiskerton cum Morton has seen families connect with loved ones overseas through live-feed video chat from their homes, which previously wasn’t possible.
Residents created Fibre for Rural Nottinghamshire (F4RN) after being told they would be left out of a county superfast broadband scheme. They raised ?115,000 through community internet shares towards the project and have dug the trenches for the fibre-optic cables. The project has more than 100 subscribers, 83 of whom are now connected to superfast broadband. The eventual aim is to connect all 370 households in both villages. Southwell MP Mr Robert Jenrick took part in the group’s latest dig in Gravelly Lane, Fiskerton. They were preparing for ducting to be laid as part of the next stage to the scheme. “The scheme has really started to pay dividends. It has been a good investment,” said Mr Jenrick.
“I met around 20 volunteers from around the villages, along with farmers, who were digging trenches to lay the cables ready for connection. “They have made significant progress to connect houses to superfast broadband, which is a basic utility needed in modern life.” Mr Jenrick said he had met residents who had benefited from the service.
He said: “I met one person who has grandchildren in Australia and he was now able to FaceTime and Skype them. “Another teenager said she was able to log into the Minster School’s website to complete her homework. “This group didn’t complain when they were told their villages would miss out from the scheme, they simply took it into their own hands and came up with this brilliant scheme.
“They should be commended for their hard work.”
‘Superfast broadband is a basic utility for many’
The campaign started when the villages missed out on the BT and Nottinghamshire County Council ?20m Better Broadband scheme in 2014. F4RN, now a registered company, has laid cables at the Arthur Radford Memorial Ground, Southwell, leading into Morton; and Cooks Lane, Fiskerton. The ducting has been connected to a network connection provided by Openreach. The scheme has involved building a wireless network directly to properties. The team will then overlay the network with fibre to increase the performance and work towards the original goal of fibre to every home or property. Wireless broadband is delivered through radio waves while fibre optic signal is transmitted along the fibre using light so there is no reduction in speed or quality depending on how far away the house is. Committee member Mr Paul Newton said: “We have just over 100 subscribers and 83 of these properties have already been connected. “Robert Jenrick joined us for our latest dig and rightly pointed out that superfast broadband is a basic utility for many. “Many homeowners have given us permission to cross their land to dig trenches, while F4RN has had many volunteers who have helped, along with farmers who gave us a plough machine that enabled us to lay the cables deep in some of the trenches.
“The aim eventually would be to connect 370 homes in the two villages.” Mr Newton said it would take another two to three years for the entire project to be completed. Those who want to be connected to the scheme have to pay a connection charge of ?210.
That covers the installation and all equipment needed to provide the broadband connection.
The monthly subscription is ?36 per household.