300th community sign up for fibre through BT's community partnership programme
Thursday 22nd June, 2017
A partnership between a small West Bergholt community and BT has marked a major milestone in the roll-out of fibre broadband across the UK.
People living and working in Maltings Park, West Bergholt, which includes The Grade 2 listed Truman building, are the 300th community in the country to sign a jointly funded deal with BT to get the high-speed technology. Other areas set to benefit include properties near Heathlands Primary School in and around Lexden Road and Colchester Road.
The project involves funding from the local community and Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT Group, as well as a £5,821 grant from BT’s Community Fibre Partnerships programme to pay for the extensive engineering work.
Under this programme, communities in the final five per cent of the UK not covered by fibre broadband roll-out plans can apply for a BT grant of up to £20,000 towards the cost of their fibre broadband network if the technology will also benefit a local school or similar organisation.
Heathlands Primary School was part of the group which applied for a BT grant.
Rick Cranfield, deputy head teacher at Heathlands Primary School, said "Access to fibre broadband is going to have a significant impact on all of our pupils. With a number of wireless devices in our school, the increased internet speed will allow our pupils to develop as the independent learners we aspire them to be. The pupils will have quick access to the information they need for their studies. As well as being able to collaborate across classrooms and with children in different countries, the technology will provide effective access to online resources that inspire pupils to learn and engage them fully in their education."
The local community set up a crowdfunding page to successfully raise the remaining funds.
Local community co-ordinator, Julian McCallum, who helped arrange the partnership, explains: “I am delighted that the Truman Residents Association have signed the community funded fibre contract with Openreach. Using Spacehive, the crowdfunding platform, helped us greatly in getting our project seen by a much wider audience within the local community. It also helped people in donating quickly and safely and has meant we can keep everyone up to date with the latest information right up until the project is finished. Once finished, this project will make a massive difference not only to the residents, but also our local school, which is being upgraded at the same time. A big thank you to everyone who donated or helped in any way.”
Local resident Kevin Oddy added “We went with Openreach as solutions from other suppliers would have meant new cabling and ducting required and, because the Truman building is a Grade 2 listed building, this was not ideal. The solution that Openreach has provided has meant that they are able to use existing wiring. This is great because it doesn’t affect the appearance of the building and the fact it is the Openreach network means that the residents can choose from a wide range of broadband providers.”
Work will soon commence on making high-speed fibre broadband available to 370 premises in the area, and is due to be completed by the end of next Spring.
Steve Haines, managing director for Openreach, said: “Many congratulations to the people of The Maltings for being the 300th community to sign a deal with Openreach to get fibre broadband. Around 150 communities across the UK can already access high-speed fibre broadband through our co-funded Community Fibre Partnerships scheme. We will ‘never say no’ to any community that wants superfast fibre broadband connectivity and hope that this scheme will encourage even more communities to work with us.”
Giles Ellerton, BT’s regional partnership director for the East of England, said: “BT’s ambition is to ‘never say no’ to any community that wants high-speed fibre broadband connectivity and our partnership with the community of Maltings Park in West Bergholt – the 300th of its kind across the UK – is testimony to that.
“The more we shop, learn and communicate online the more important it is that we have fast and reliable broadband connections. Whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband.”
Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, which means that local households and businesses can benefit from competitive pricing and products from a wide range of providers.
Pictured - BT's regional partnership director Giles Ellerton and pupils of Heathlands Primary School