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Lincolnshire residents launch fibre broadband campaign

Thursday, March 27th 2014 by Hannah Langston

Villagers in rural Lincolnshire have formed a campaign to bring superfast broadband to their area.

Retired engineer Alun Hawkins and IT worker Ben Haines have held their first public meeting to drum up support for Fibrelincs, a community-based, fibre-to-the-home network that will supply superfast broadband to the parish of Carlby and nearby villages. While Mr Haines has just moved to the area and struggles to get a decent connection, Mr Hawkins has lived in Carlby since 1999 and can only get a maximum speed of 6Mbps.

The majority of Carlby is due to be upgraded to fibre-to-the-cabinet broadband in 2015 by Onlincolnshire, a partnership between Lincolnshire County Council and BT. However, as only one green cabinet currently serves Carlby, not all homes in the village will be able to receive fibre broadband, according to Mr Hawkins.

“By installing fibre in cabinets, those on the other side of the village may barely have a connection – this has already happened in villages close to Carlby. For those who can get it, fibre-to-the-cabinet is OK for five or six years, but eventually it will be too slow and will need upgrading. With fibre-to-the-home you install it once and it lasts forever.

“That’s why we’re looking for as many locals as possible to help set up this network and start benefiting from superfast speeds,” he added.

Fibrelincs’ first meeting attracted around 50 local residents who were keen to get involved in the project. Mr Hawkins and Mr Haines will design the new network and hope to attract volunteers to fill admin, finance and manual roles.

The campaign will be based on the successful Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) initiative, which has seen all funds raised within the community, in return for which volunteers can claim shares. However, Fibrelincs is not yet ruling out the possibility of government aid.

Mr Haines said: “As the business plan matures, we will take a look at any supplemental funding available to us, such as government grants. The recently announced £10m "Competitive Fund" is obviously one of those sources of supplemental funding that we'll be investigating.”

According to Mr Hawkins, attendees have already starting emailing each other about how they can support the campaign. A follow-up meeting between the project and willing volunteers will take place in the next few months.

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