Background to the project
Fibre is the future. Just as in the 1920s, East Horsley residents replaced gas lamps with electric lighting, so a hundred years later the government is keen to replace the copper wire connections that currently serve as the conduit for phone calls and the Internet, with fibre optic cables. Zoom calls, Netflix, Sky, iPlayer, the weekly shop, high definition computer games - put simply, a copper wire cannot cope with all this data traffic, which is why, at busy times of the day, the internet coughs and splutters.
To enjoy truly high-speed Internet with no limit on the number of users, the connection to your home needs to be upgraded. Replacing copper wires with a fibre cable will help future proof your home or business. Ten years from now a home without a fibre connection will be viewed in much the same way as a home in the 1930s without electricity. When you come to sell your house in the future, a fibre connection could help clinch the sale.
Your Parish Council is working with Openreach to enable the transition from copper to fibre, installing gigabit-capable broadband. If all goes well, the new service should be available later this year or by early 2022, initially delivering broadband speeds of up to 330 Mbps (Megabits per second) and even higher are expected in the future.
So who pays?
The cost will be funded through the government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Every home and business in the village will be offered a ‘Gigabit Voucher’ with nominal values of £1,500 and £3,500 respectively that can be pledged to fund the work. This funding will be available until 31 March, 2021. The village has already experienced this type of project on a much smaller scale, in Green Dene; schemes are also at an advanced stage in Surrey Gardens and High Park Avenue. Several separate schemes have been absorbed into a parish wide project involving 1,700 premises in 72 roads.
How will it work?
Openreach will run fibre directly to distribution points in the local roads using existing poles and conduits. Assuming you pledge your Gigabit Voucher, you will be expected to sign up to a Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) broadband package with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) of your choice. The ISP will then make the final connection to a new hub or router in your house. Your subscription may increase a little, from maybe £10 a month, depending on which speed option you select.
If you decide not to take part, your existing broadband service will be unaffected.
Openreach confirmed we will need voucher pledges from around 600 households, less if local businesses pledge their higher value vouchers, to cover the cost of the scheme. Openreach is confident, based on previous experience, that this is achievable.
We mounted a publicity campaign encouraging residents and business owners to pledge their voucher via the dedicated Openreach web page, working with a group of 45 ‘broadband road leads’ who agreed to help us secure enough pledges.