Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Villagers given hope of faster web connection

SUPERFAST broadband could be coming to Crazies Hill after provider Gigaclear offered to connect homes in the village

SUPERFAST broadband could be coming to Crazies Hill after provider Gigaclear offered to connect homes in the village.

The village currently experiences speeds as slow as two megabytes per second and is not yet covered by BT’s Superfast Berkshire programme, which has been installed in nearby Wargrave.

In March, the scheme’s project manager Colin Batchelor told a meeting at the village hall that broadband in Crazies Hill could take until 2018 to be installed and the only option for residents who wanted the service “tomorrow” was to move house.

But the Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green residents’ association says it has been talking with potential providers for the last year and thinks Gigaclear is the “best option” for residents.

The company has indicated it could begin laying cables in the village and neighbouring Cockpole Green in August, provided at least 35 to 40 per cent of residents agreed to be connected. It would offer speeds of between 50Mbps and 1Gbps (gigabyte per second).

The residents’ association also talked to BT and Virgin Media, which would both take about 18 months to install broadband in the villages and would involve £100,000 to £200,000 of funding from the community. Both BT and Virgin Media would 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.

In April, the Henley Standard reported that Virgin Media could cover the area with its Cable My Street scheme, involving fibre optic cables with speeds of up to 200 megabits per second.

But parish councillors warned that Crazies Hill may be too sparsely populated to be covered by the scheme and any solution would require thousands of pounds of funding from residents. 

Gigaclear would not ask residents for a contribution but there would be an installation charge for each household. It would also offer “fibre to the premises” broadband, meaning speeds are not affected by the proximity to a broadband box.

In a letter to villagers earlier this month, the association said: “When we looked at the pricing models of these companies, on a like-for-like basis, they (Gigaclear) compare extremely well. Feedback from other Gigaclear installations has been very positive.

“When we look at the time delay and type of installation on any public solution and the amount of community funding required for other solutions it is clear Gigaclear represents very good value for money.”

Association member and Wargrave parish councillor Philip Davies added: “It’s really great news for our communities and brings us into the 21st century.”

The residents’ association will now hold a meeting for villagers on Wednesday, July 6, at the village hall, starting at 7.30pm.

There will be presentations by Gigaclear and Superfast Berkshire and residents will be able to ask questions about the proposed service, expected cost and service differences from current providers.

The association has also asked residents who are happy with the Gigaclear offer to sign up with the company immediately so the village can reach the target amount as soon as possible.

Superfast Berkshire, which is backed by the government and started in 2011, is aiming 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 not the one covering Crazies Hill.

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”.

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