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More than half of 'extraordinarily rural' Herefordshire can now get fibre broadband

Tuesday, September 1st 2015 by Ellen Branagh

More than half of Herefordshire homes and businesses can now get superfast broadband as part of the area’s Fastershire project.

The village of Fownhope is the latest place in the county to be connected to faster broadband through the Fastershire project, which is a partnership between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire councils and BT.

Around 300 homes and businesses in Fownhope can now access faster broadband and work is continuing to include more properties.

The Fastershire project aims to make faster broadband available to around 90% of Herefordshire premises by the end of 2016, taking 30Mbps to most homes and businesses and a minimum of 2Mbps to everyone.

When added to BT’s commercial fibre rollout in the county, the programme has so far taken coverage to more than 55%.

Pharmaceutical industry consultant Kevin Braybrook and his wife Claire run ‘The Bowens’ Bed and Breakfast in Fownhope, which was one of the first businesses in the village to order fibre.

Mr Braybrook, who is also a member of Fownhope Parish Council, said: “A fast, reliable broadband connection is key to running a successful business, and high speed internet has become an essential part of everyday life. “We operate a B&B business in a rural area, but our guests expect to find the same level of connectivity that they are used to at home.

“Being able to offer high speed wireless internet enables us to compete with larger hotels in urban areas.”

Mr Braybrook, who runs his own consultancy business from home, said he could not do it without the internet and access to high speed fibre had given him better access to international data and the ability to video conference with clients around the world.

'Immense'

“The difference that faster broadband makes to the future viability of rural communities like Fownhope is immense.

“Small businesses across the county will now be able to compete effectively in the international marketplace."

Councillor John Hardwick, who represents Fownhope on Herefordshire Council, said: “Like many communities in Herefordshire we have been waiting a while for fibre to reach us as being able to use fast broadband will make a massive difference to people and businesses in this community, and help keep the village connected and vibrant.”

Ian Binks, BT’s regional manager for Herefordshire and the West Midlands, added: “We recognise the positive impact that better connectivity can have on rural communities and are working hard to ensure as many people have access to fibre broadband as quickly as possible.

“I am delighted that we have now been able to bring better fibre broadband to these first homes and businesses in Fownhope.

“Enhanced internet access is critical to the sustainability and growth of rural economies; it empowers better provision of local services and impacts positively on quality of life.

“The rollout of the network is a major engineering task, made particularly challenging in Herefordshire, which is an extraordinarily rural county where no single community outside of the city of Hereford has more than 12,000 residents.”

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