Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Ultrafast broadband on way to village centre after all

ULTRAFAST broadband is to be made available in Wargrave village centre after all.

Virgin Media has said it will now include High Street in central Wargrave as part of its Cable My Street initiative, which offers householders and businesses speeds of up to 200 megabytes per second.

The company had said previously that it would not install the service in the village centre as there was not enough demand to justify the traffic disruption that would be caused by digging up the roads to lay the fibre-optic cables.

It laid cables elsewhere in the village over the summer and the broadband service is expected to be available to most residents of these streets this month.

At a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council in July, Virgin project manager Paul Hartley said work on roads in the village centre would require closures with long diversions and he was worried that doing that could lead to negative publicity for the company.

He told councillors: “We outlined concerns with High Street, Ferry Lane and Church Street. They are central roads and would require closures. At the moment it is still a no.

“We would like as many customers attracted to us as possible but there’s commercial viability and brand impact or damage.

“I’m happy to debate but there has got to be a clear understanding of what could happen.” The company announced its change of heart after winning support from residents, the parish council and Wokingham Borough Council. The work in High Street, Church Street and Ferry Lane will begin next month.

A company spokeswoman said: “As Virgin Media continues to expand its fibre broadband network in Wargrave, we endeavour to minimise disruption for residents and businesses, which is why we originally took the decision not to extend our cables along High Street.

“We are delighted to have received huge amounts of support and are now pleased to announce that we will be bringing ultrafast connectivity to Wargrave High Street.”

Last year, BT installed fibre-optic broadband in Wargrave as part of its Superfast Berkshire project.

The scheme aims to cover 97 per cent of the county by 2018 but does not cover Crazies Hill, which has instead agreed a deal with provider Gigaclear to connect the village with speeds of up to 1,000Mbps.

About 40 per cent of residents agreed to sign up to the service in July last year when the company promised to provide the “fastest broadband in the country”.

Gigaclear, which is based in Abingdon, began work to lay fibre-optic cables in the village earlier this month before connecting homes there and in neighbouring Cockpole Green, Warren Row and Knowl Hill.

Wargrave Parish Council chairman Richard Bush, who lives in Crazies Hill, said: “I’m pleased to see they have the spade in the ground. They have started at the top of Crazies Hill and are working backwards.”

Crazies Hill currently experiences speeds as slow as two megabits per second.

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