Better Broadband …but not yet for all of us!
At the end of March, Hyde Community Projects Ltd (HCP) signed a contract with BT Openreach to begin the planning and build phases for new equipment to supply Superfast Broadband to Hyde, a bit of Godshill and the South Gorley area of EH&I. It is the largest community-funded broadband project in the country (see the map on our website).
The year of research, planning, negotiations and fund raising to get to this point has been quite a roller-coaster (you can read a longer account on their website www.hydecommunityproject.org.uk/#!project-news/bvm7l), but HCP is now not far off being fully funded for the whole project. Signing a contract before the beginning of April ensured HCPs project kept its place in Openreach’s ‘build stack’, which means it should be completed within a year, and hopefully sooner.
Openreach has exceptionally granted HCP a five week contract break clause to secure the final tranche of about £20,000 of funding still needed; it is intended to raise this from residents and an external source. If HCP doesn’t succeed by then, the contract can be cancelled without penalty.
So, if you live in the South Gorley area of the parish – about as far south as Ibsley Garage on the Gorley Road – HCP is looking for anyone who still hasn’t, but would like to join the project! Please contact either Peter Dowling at HCP (07768 096840) or Roly Errington (01425 474224), or email HCP via their website.
For residents along Ibsley Drove:
Several residents at the west end of the Drove are patiently waiting for news from HCP about whether their telephone lines can be ‘re-assigned’ to the new Superfast cabinet that will be installed on South Gorley Green, which would deliver them much faster broadband speeds than currently projected from the new service they would get from the cabinet on North Gorley Green. Openreach has promised HCP that once a senior field engineer has been allocated to the project he will investigate with HCP what would be involved, such as spare network capacity required back to Fordingbridge exchange, additional aerial supply cables needed, cost etc.
If the migration is feasible, and at an acceptable price, the work should not require any rewiring at properties in Ibsley Drove or having to change telephone numbers, for instance. As soon as HCP has any news, residents will be the first to be informed.
Broadband for the rest of EH&I
It is a bit ironic that although Mark Bloor and I have spent over four years looking into possible solutions to the dreadful broadband service for many of our residents, as well as other rural New Forest parishes, our work has led to the adjoining parish of Hyde getting better broadband before us! Several reasons have contributed to this: EH&I is a far larger and more dispersed parish than Hyde, with very long telephone supply routes to many of our houses; instead of dealing with premises connected to just one exchange as in Hyde’s case, EH&I has premises connected to three, with one not only not in Hampshire but also in a different BT region; Hyde is fed from two ‘primary’ green roadside cabinets, while EH&I is fed from seven. All of these add to the complexity and number of technical solutions that would be needed to deliver broadband services as good as the Hyde project. And the more solutions needed, the more it will all cost – likely to be well over £1,500 per premises to get to some parts of the parish. Put simply, Hyde has been a much quicker and easier ‘fix’ than EH&I will be, and for the many of us in EH&I who won’t get any benefit from either the Hyde project or the intended HCC/BDUK upgrade to the Mockbeggar area, it is going to be technically pretty challenging and certainly not cheap to deliver us decent broadband …but Mark and I have not given up on it!
Cllr Roly Errington (firstname.lastname@example.org)