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Date: 22/03/2018

On Wednesday 14 March, local businesses received an update from Fastershire at the Herefordshire Broadband Connectivity Forum.

Many businesses in Herefordshire often find it difficult to remain productive with slow broadband and with the recent weather conditions, this has meant individuals have had to try and work from home where broadband connectivity may be worse coupled with no mobile signal to make calls. To address this, the Chamber decided it would be beneficial to organise an event with Fastershire to discuss their current strategy to roll-out faster broadband.

On Wednesday 14 March, Sophia Haywood - the Chamber’s Policy Manager, welcomed businesses to the event and gave an update on how the Chamber is working with local businesses to address issues with connectivity and mobile not-spots.

Matt Smith, Operations Manager for Fastershire, kicked off with who Fastershire is and an update on their broadband rollout.

Fastershire is a partnership between Herefordshire Council and Gloucestershire County Council to bring faster broadband to the two counties where private sector investment alone was not enough.
Funding is provided by the two authorities and three central government departments which are the Broadband Delivery UK (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport), European Regional Development Fund (Department for Communities & Local Government) and European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Fastershire’s strategy includes four stages. In the first stage, they wanted to understand the provision of superfast broadband connectivity by commercial providers, primarily British Telecom (BT). Stage 2 then saw Fastershire heavily investing in BT to deliver superfast broadband to 85% of the county.

Currently at Stage 3, Fastershire are investing £9.7m in BT and Gigaclear to deliver faster broadband to all geographical areas which will take coverage to 97% of the county.

If you haven’t heard of them before, Gigaclear uses their own infrastructure and are able to provide up to 1000Mbps, that’s 28x faster than the UK average.

The project aims to be completed by 2019/2020, when all residents and businesses will be able to order the broadband service they need.  Matt Smith seemed to have realistic expectations of the roll-out and noted that the scale of the deployment was a huge endeavour.  While the plan is to be complete by March 2020, it is not inconceivable even now to expect some small scale slippage in some areas.  Nevertheless people will be able to place orders.

On top of this, Fastershire are also delivering workshops, training and reviews for businesses to take part in to ensure they get the best out of their broadband, which a lot of businesses in the room had not yet attended.
If you are interested in finding out when you are expected to have faster broadband or want to take part in the events they run you can visit their site here: