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Thurrock Council in Essex is to fit out 1,700 properties at 12 social housing developments across the district with a gigabit fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband system provided by multiple-occupancy dwelling specialist Hyperoptic.
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Hyperoptic is already active as a supplier of consumer and business broadband to 20 UK towns and cities, but has recently started signing more contracts with local authorities to provide ultrafast broadband services into council flats and houses.
Serving public housing developments with affordable ultrafast broadband options is increasingly becoming seen as a means to address social exclusion by enabling residents in lower socio-economic brackets to fully participate in the digital economy.
“We are very pleased to be teaming up with Hyperoptic to help every resident in council accommodation have the same access the fastest broadband speed available in the UK today, as those living in private properties,” said Shane Hebb, Thurrock Council portfolio holder for finance and legal.
“The council is neither financially up nor down through this work, but it has supported Hyperoptic develop an affordable package to areas which are highly populated in a bid to keep hundreds of Thurrock residents better connected.”
Hyperoptic will offer residents all three of its main FTTP packages, a full 1Gbps service, or 100Mbps or 20Mbps options. In this case it will also supply a bespoke-entry level product, a 5Mbps product priced at £9 per month.
“For digital inclusion programmes to succeed, the priority must be the provision of ultrafast, reliable and affordable broadband – unfettered internet connectivity removes barriers and enables limitless possibilities,” said Hyperoptic chief customer officer Steve Holford.
“Working with councils to give their social housing tenants the UK’s best internet experience is a strategic priority for us – we are pioneering the shift to Gigabit Britain and the public sector has a huge role to play in making this happen as soon as possible.”
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Hebb at Thurrock Council said the authority had publicly stated that it needed to be more ahead of the curve when it came to technology. It has already put a number of its services online in a digital-first drive.
“Ultrafast internet access is proven to improve social and economic welfare so we wanted to partner with a provider that would go way above the status quo and deliver a service that would make a real difference to the lives of our social housing tenants,” he said.
“Our ambition is to roll Hyperoptic’s gigabit connectivity out across the whole of our social housing estates in the future, and create a borough broadband offer which is available for everyone.”
Initially, the service will be coming to 12 developments in Thurrock, prioritised by resident demand. Hyperoptic expects to start installation work in the summer of 2017.