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Rural fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband supplier Gigaclear has hit the halfway point in its ultrafast roll-out taking place across the Cotswolds under the auspices of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire councils’ Fastershire Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.
The firm has now passed more than 3,000 homes and businesses in the Cotswolds with its fibre network with 182 miles of cabling, and more than 2,000 properties in the area are now able to receive an ultrafast service of up to 1Gbps.
Gigaclear, which specialises in largely community-backed broadband network digs, was one of the first altnets to receive BDUK funds as the programme moved into Phase 2 in 2015.
New customers include local primary schools, which are now able to access the most up-to-date learning resources; pubs, where customers can download a full-length high-definition movie in the same time it takes to pull a pint of Guinness; and farms, which are now able to try to diversify into new markets.
“Earlier in 2016, St Andrew’s school in Chedworth became the 1,000th Fastershire ultrafast property to go live, making it one of the best connected schools in Britain,” said Gigaclear business development director Joe Frost.
“Now, more than double that number of properties have access to the same fast internet speeds, which is remarkable when you consider how remote many of the Cotswolds villages are.
“We’re now on the home straight for completing the project on time and on budget and are looking forward to thousands more properties being connected by the end of 2017,” he added.
Mark Hawthorne, leader of Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Fastershire’s partnership with Gigaclear is making superb progress in the Cotswolds. The roll-out of ultrafast broadband is already bringing considerable benefits to residents and businesses, and is well on target to completed by summer 2017.”
Gigaclear, which specialises mostly in community-backed commercial roll outs in parts of the country not yet touched by BT, bid for and won its first BDUK contracts in 2015, also scooping deals in Berkshire and Essex. It broke ground on its first BDUK-backed network digs 12 months ago.
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In February 2016, the government finally admitted that smaller altnets had proved they were able to effectively compete against BT Openreach in bidding for and delivering superfast broadband in rural areas covered by BDUK.
However, the government stopped short of conceding that this was any indication the original BDUK bidding process was in any way skewed in BT’s favour.
This came after a series of market test pilots exploring alternative options to the slower fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) system offered by BT during Phase 1 of the scheme.