THE pace of life in one of the UK’s best-loved villages is set to speed up after getting superfast broadband. Inkberrow – thought to be the setting for Ambridge, home of The Archers radio drama – is one of the latest areas to get superfast fibre broadband through the partnership being led by Worcestershire County Council and BT Group. Around 1,300 households and businesses in Inkberrow are now able to get the technology, including the area around The Old Bull, the pub which is said to be the inspiration for the Archers’ fictional The Bull pub.
Michael McCarthy, pub owner, said: “Everything is online these days so it’s really important to me and to the business that people can look online whilst they are here. “With improved broadband speeds we can offer free Wi-Fi to our customers. In today’s digital world this is a service you can’t do without, and this is fantastic news for our village pub.”
Engineers from Openreach – the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network – have installed nine fibre broadband cabinets to connect local premises to the new network. Steve Haines, Openreach’s managing director of next generation access, said: “Because the pub is situated so close to one of the new fibre broadband cabinets, it has the potential to be one of the best connected pubs in the country. “And villagers will be able to catch up on missed episodes of The Archers on iPlayer without any buffering.”
Around 250,000 households and businesses across Worcestershire can now access superfast fibre broadband as a result of Superfast Worcestershire and private sector investment by companies like Openreach.
Councillor Ken Pollock, cabinet member responsible for economy and infrastructure, said: “The partnership has provided a number of fibre cabinets in Inkberrow, and work to connect more properties in the village is ongoing.
People should take note that when the new technology is available, the switch to superfast speeds isn’t automatic – customers must upgrade via an internet provider.”
Superfast Worcestershire Broadband Programme committed to delivering broadband in Worcestershire take part in …
MEMBERS of a team committed to delivering broadband in Worcestershire will be taking part in an annual charity event this weekend. Superfast Worcestershire Broadband Programme, which includes employees from Worcestershire County Council1, Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, BT and Openreach, will be taking time out from delivering high-speed fibre broadband across the county to tackle Worcester Dragon Boat Racing Club’s annual charity regatta – Race the Dragon. The race involved 25 teams and will be held this Sunday, July 2, on the River Severn by Pitchcroft.
The 17-strong crew from Worcestershire LEP, WCC, BT and Openreach, all involved in the programme to make fibre broadband available, will be wearing Superfast Worcestershire vests and raising money for Worcester-based Onside Advocacy. The charity provides advocacy and other support services to ensure fairness and equality for adults who may be vulnerable, disadvantaged or discriminated against. Adam Johnstone, a senior project manager for Openreach, said: “Working on a project like Superfast Worcestershire, we know how important team work is.”
Anyone who would like to support the crew in their fundraising can make an online donation at justgiving.com/fundraising/superfastworcestershire.
A MAJOR ?3.7 million expansion to Worcestershire’s superfast broadband project is about to launch in a big boost for rural areas. The cash will reach 3,000 properties in so-called ‘hard to reach’ spots, such as hamlets and small villages – with the exact locations now revealed for the first time. The extension will take 18 months to finish and has been funded from a combination of savings within the existing scheme, help from BT and a ‘clawback’ mechanism with the firm’s contract.
The ?28 million superfast broadband scheme is one of Worcestershire County Council‘s flagship policies under its Tory rule, but in recent months a debate has raged about some rural spots missing out. The areas now due to benefit include parts of Wickhamford, Throckmorton, Wick, Heightington, Teme Valley, Eardiston, Stockton-on-Teme, Holt Fleet, Shelsley Beauchamp and Berrow Green. Councillor Ken Pollock, County Hall’s cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: “The scheme has made a huge difference to people and businesses across the county – they are better connected and able to access greater opportunities.
“Now, the partnership is taking superfast coverage even further than we had originally envisaged.” Ian Binks, BT’s regional Manager for Worcestershire, said: “BT is committed to making superfast broadband as widely available as possible. “Whether you’re working from home, doing homework or online shopping, everything is easier and faster with fibre broadband.”
More than 51,500 county properties are now able to connect to it, with three out of every 10 households taking advantage so far. Matt Hancock, the Government’s minister for digital, said: “I’m delighted that the high take-up rate in Worcestershire means there is now extra funding that’ll help us reach another 3,000 more properties across the county.”
Around ?8.5 million of the scheme’s cost is funded directly from county taxpayers, and the rest from either central Government or BT.
The council’s opposition Labour group has been highly critical of the project, saying BT should not be getting any public subsidy for it.
It will now run on into the middle of 2018, with 96 per cent of Worcestershire’s properties able to sign up.