Herefordshire's hard to reach homes and businesses set to benefit from faster broadband

Some of the hardest to reach homes and businesses in Herefordshire are set to benefit from faster broadband thanks to an innovative new approach.

Herefordshire Council’s broadband initiative, Fastershire has secured funding to provide superfast broadband access for some of the most remote properties in the county.

The first of its kind in the UK, Fastershire will use over £5m of funding from the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme to provide access to 10 dispersed clusters of premises spread across the county.  The scheme is managed by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs using the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

In addition to Fastershire’s existing contracts with BT and Gigaclear, Airband have been selected by Fastershire to deliver a highly innovative hybrid solution, called Rural Optic. This will see fibre to the premise served from a microwave backhaul which is capable of delivering broadband speeds of 100mbps and more to consumers. The microwave element will remove a major cost barrier and will allow some of the most remote properties in the county to be reached.

Councillor David Harlow, Cabinet member for economy and communications at Herefordshire Council said, “This is another significant milestone for Herefordshire. Currently 85% of Herefordshire can already access superfast broadband as a result of phase 1 of the project and over the next two years, phase 2 will increase superfast coverage to 98%.

As more properties gain access to faster broadband the remaining hardest to reach premises will require increasingly more innovative and bespoke solutions like this. We are doing everything possible to extend access as far as we can, including through the use of EU funding currently available, either through this RDPE funding or our ERDF business grants.”

One business set to benefit from this new rollout is M Lloyd Engineering, in Stansbatch, who manufacture and export screening machinery globally.

Matthew Lloyd said “80% percent of our business goes abroad and this means communications are absolutely essential.  Fast, reliable broadband will save us time and money, enabling us to provide real time tutorials to customers as far afield as the US and Korea and will allow us to utilise a range of new methods of working.

Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner said, “It is excellent to see more rural areas such as Herefordshire benefiting from connections to fast and reliable broadband. Rural areas should not be left behind in the connectivity slow lane, missing out on the opportunities high speed broadband can bring. Thousands of residents and businesses in Herefordshire will benefit.

The funding made available through the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme champions our countryside communities and businesses by opening up access to broadband in some of the hardest-to-reach areas.”

To find out if your property can already access faster broadband or where your property sits in the Fastershire rollout, visit  the Fastershire website and use the address checker.

About Fastershire

  • Fastershire is a partnership between Gloucestershire County Council and Herefordshire Council to overcome the market’s failure to provide high speed broadband across both counties. It uses funding from central government’s Broadband Delivery UK matched by the local authorities, ERDF, EAFRD and the Marches LEP
  • Phase 1 of the project enabled 85% of premises in Herefordshire with access to speeds of 30Mbps or over. This coverage has been achieved through commercial investment and a project contract delivered by BT Group.
  • Phase 2 of the project it is expected to increase coverage in Herefordshire to 98%, through contracts with Gigaclear and BT Group and even further using EAFRD Funding with the help of Airband.
  • The projects vision is that “by the end of 2019/20 all residents and businesses in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire will be able to order the broadband service they need, and a high percentage will be using faster broadband to do more online, boost business growth and achieve their potential.”
  • The project has developed a strategy which outlines the approach adopted.

About Airband

  • Airband is an internet service provider that focuses on delivering superfast broadband to ‘hard to reach’ and rural communities across England and Wales where a traditional fibre solution cannot be used. This is achieved by using fixed wireless radio wave technology to bring speeds of 20Mbps to 1Gbps, connecting users to the internet via overground transmissions rather than digging up roads to lay underground cables. The result is a low impact solution ideally suited to rural areas, National Parks and AONBs.
  • With over 10 years’ experience, the Airband team plan, install and maintain a private network, tailoring the solution to the local environment, taking into account the geography, the existing wireless landscape and the economics of each project, enabling the best possible connection and speed to each location.
  • For more information, please contact Simon Britton on 01905 676121 or by email at simon.britton@airband.co.uk

Published: Tuesday, 25th September 2018