Like many who live in the countryside, I have sometimes considered throwing my computer out of the window when the internet has ground to halt. I have always managed to resist the temptation but once or twice it has been a close run thing, as I imagine it has for quite a few others who like the green of the country but not the terrible internet speeds. Some of you may therefore have felt your computer and nerves were granted a reprieve when word of rural superfast broadband for Hampshire hit the headlines.
Well, for most in the county this calmness should now be permanent as they surf the web for Christmas presents and sales bargains in the weeks to come, but there is going to be some who will miss out. As many of you may know, Hampshire County Council is working with BT Openreach to install new fibre connections.
Under these plans, at least 95% of home and businesses in Hampshire will be able to access superfast services by the end of 2017 and will enjoy speeds of at least 2 Mbps. Hampshire County Council has estimated that around 40,000 homes will actually get better than 50 Mbps.
It’s great news for the area that the council has decided to make this investment and I’m sure that at least 95% of people will be very happy with the results.
The slight wrinkle is the other 5%. These are the most rural areas – small villages and hamlets of a few dozen houses. For these people, the future is less clear. It may be that some communities have to fund their connection to this network on their own and that could be at a great cost. Rural Parish councils are being told that they may have to pay for the infrastructure to be installed themselves also with a pretty hefty price tag.
For example, Rotherwick near Hook recently completed a self-funded broadband scheme at a cost of around £28,000.
I would encourage local residents to be in touch with Hampshire County Council directly to express their support for super-fast broadband in their area.
They can do so by signing-up to the campaign here: https://www3.hants.gov.uk/broadband/broadband-signup.htm