Saturday, 25 September 2021

Villagers sign up to new broadband deal

SUPERFAST broadband is coming to Crazies Hill after provider Gigaclear agreed a deal with the village.

SUPERFAST broadband is coming to Crazies Hill after provider Gigaclear agreed a deal with the village.

The Abingdon company will connect homes in the village and neighbouring Cockpole Green, Warren Row and Knowl Hill after residents signed up to the scheme.

Work could begin next month and may be completed by May next year.

In July, Gigaclear promised residents the “fastest broadband in the country” if about 40 per cent of locals agreed to sign up.

Crazies Hill currently experiences speeds as slow as two megabits per second and has not been covered by the initial phases of BT’s Superfast Berkshire programme, which has been reached nearby Wargrave.

A survey carried out by the residents’ association last year showed that 93 per cent of residents felt broadband in the village was “not good enough”.

Earlier this year, villagers were told that BT broadband could take until 2018 to be installed and it’s thought that Virgin Media would take a similar time.

Both BT and Virgin’s offerings would also involve £100,000 to £200,000 of funding from the community to cover about 150 homes in Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green, meaning if every resident signed up then each household would have to pay between £660 and £1,320 for the service.

Gigaclear is setting up a network in four different areas in and around Wargrave in a project costing about  £3.5 million.

Nationally, it has already connected more than 20,000 homes and businesses with plans for another 30,000 by the end of the year.

The company uses underground fibre-optic cables, meaning contractors will need to dig trenches in roads, pavements and verges around the village.

Network connection points will be installed outside every property, regardless of whether they have signed up to the scheme.

Once the work is finished, only the cabinet and the lid over each connection point will be visible above ground.

Gigaclear offers speeds of up to 1,000Mb a second but other packages are available for residents who don’t need that much.

There is a £100 “activation fee” as well as a minimum £95 installation charge but villagers can avoid the latter by installing the service themselves.

In a statement, the company said: “Gigaclear would like to thank all our supporters who have worked extremely hard to secure better broadband in your area. Without their efforts and your support, we would not be building in your community.”

Philip Davies, of the Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green Residents’ Association, said: “Needless to say we are highly delighted that the effort put in by the residents’ association, Wargrave Parish Council, Superfast Berkshire and others has paid off.”

Superfast Berkshire, which is backed by the Government, aims to cover 97 per cent of properties in the county by the end of 2018.

Ten broadband boxes in Wargrave have been upgraded to fibre optic under the scheme so far but that does not include the one covering Crazies Hill.

Wargrave will also be getting ultrafast broadband in the next year.

The village has been chosen by Virgin Media for its Cable My Street initiative, which will offer householders and businesses speeds of up to 200 megabytes per second.

The company hopes to complete the work by the spring.

Maidenhead MP Theresa May, whose constituency covers Wargrave and Crazies Hill, said: “These improvements are pleasing, although there is still much work to be done across the constituency. I will continue to ensure that the commitment to deliver superfast broadband is met.”

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