The Connected Britain awards have recognised the work undertaken in the Gloucestershire village of Chedworth by Gigaclear, under the Fastershire project, in the Community Improvement award.
The awards that took place in London recently aim to promote the innovation and achievement of those companies who are at the forefront of Britain’s digital transformation.
Gloucestershire County Council’s Fastershire Broadband Project, in partnership with Herefordshire Council, is funding the delivery of faster broadband to homes and businesses across the two counties.
Gigaclear were awarded the Fastershire delivery contract for the Cotswolds in 2015 and have provided ultrafast broadband to premises across the Cotswolds, of which Chedworth was one of the villages enabled. Gigaclear specialise in transforming digital communications in rural communities by installing a new pure fibre broadband network offering speeds from 50 through 1000Mbps.
County councillor, Paul Hodgkinson, said, “Broadband access is vital for a rural community like Chedworth and the parish council, residents and I have long petitioned for improved broadband speeds.
“We’re delighted that Chedworth is not only accessing faster broadband but is now amongst some of the best connected communities in the country.”
To find out if your property can already access faster broadband or where your property sits in the Fastershire rollout, visit www.fastershire.com and use the address checker.
Following on from the first rollout of faster broadband to some Cotswold towns and villages, the County Council has now announced a second phase.
Just over six thousand properties in the rural Cotswolds will be hooked up to the faster service by 2017. The new supplier, Gigaclear, has a record of connecting rural homes. Villages to benefit include Chedworth, Withington and Colesbourne.
Speaking to journalists following the announcement, Cllr Paul Hodgkinson welcomed the news but says he wants the plans to go further:
“For those homes getting this good news it is very welcome but having looked at the list of properties it still means that quite a lot of people will miss out. This is now an essential service in the 21st century. I was in Greece recently where even in the remotest areas there was a 4G phone signal and fast broadband – if they can do it so can we!
“I will continue to fight for every house to get access to a better service.”
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At the recent County Council Environment Scrutiny Committee Cllr Paul Hodgkinson raised the subject of faster broadband again.
This was on the back of an update at the meeting from Shire Hall bosses about the faster broadband roll out in the Cotswolds.
Paul said: “The situation is that there is a current roll out by Fastershire across Gloucestershire which will hook up 90% of properties to faster broadband by the end of the year.
“I asked what will happen to the remaining 10% of properties. The story here is that a new contract for the remaining 10% is being put out to tender and this will be awarded by GCC next month. Three companies have applied for this.
“Once the contract has been awarded the new provider will start hooking up as many of the remaining 10% of properties as possible.
“This is a really key issue for residents and businesses in the Cotswolds. My own internet speed is painfully slow – I work from home some of the time and its a real barrier to that. I am lucky to get 1.5 mbps at fastest!
This week I am meeting with residents in Colesbourne, Coberley and Elkstone to work out how we can push for a commitment to a better service.
Now Paul has asked County bosses for a detailed map of where the final 10% roll out will go and will be communicating that to residents.
Fed up with no mobile signal in our villages? So is Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate for the Cotswolds.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is backing the ‘Sick of no signal’ campaign
Now, on the back of his questions at Gloucestershire County Council about faster broadband, he has submitted a question to next week’s Council meeting about the lack of phone coverage in rural areas.
Many parts of the Cotswolds have a poor or non-existent mobile signal – even the centre of towns like Cirencester have issues with coverage.
Paul Hodgkinson feels something needs to be done to address this issue:
“I have asked the Leader about the lack of specific information about the faster broadband roll out in the county. This continues to be an issue. Also of importance in strengthening the economy and preventing isolation is the lack of mobile phone coverage in rural areas. In many parts of the Cotswolds people would be happy to have 1G let alone 3G!
“Now I’m asking the Council Leader what his administration is doing to widen mobile phone coverage across the whole county.’
“There are large swathes of rural Gloucestershire where there is no mobile coverage whatsoever. That’s why I’m backing the Countryside Alliance’s campaign ‘Sick of no signal’ to help the local economy and ensure people don’t feel isolated.
The question will be answered at the County Council meeting on 20 November.
See further coverage of this campaign here: http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Push-improve-Gloucestershire-s-mobile-phone/story-20090027-detail/story.html
Questions are being asked this week over when rural parts of the Cotswolds will be hooked up to faster broadband.
Gloucestershire County Council has pledged to connect all parts of the county to higher internet speeds by 2015, but many people have still to hear when their area will get the new service.
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson is concerned that there has been a lack of information for residents, “As I’ve had no full answer back regarding the criteria for the broadband roll out, I’m asking a question in public about it at this week’s County Council meeting. Although some towns have been given a date, many villages haven’t.”
“It’s certainly a hot topic in the Cotswolds at the moment – the lack of fast broadband and the uncertainty over when rural areas in particular will access it. This is also a key issue for some urban areas across Gloucestershire too. People want to know the criteria for the roll out and I have found it hard to get that so am asking a question publicly.
“Given that the economy is taking off again, this is set to be a vital service for sustaining the recovery.”
Here’s the question:
To Mark Hawthorne (GCC Council Leader) : “Rural parts of Gloucestershire suffer from slow broadband connections and often poor mobile phone coverage. Whilst the promised roll out of faster broadband is to be welcomed to build a stronger economy, people in the villages of the Cotswolds and in the forgotten urban areas are still asking when they will benefit from this. What are the specific criteria for deciding which villages and urban areas get hooked up before others?”