Better internet if communities come together

Engineers working to improve the broadband network
Engineers working to improve the broadband network

Openreach has urged rural communities in the Scottish Borders to consider joining its Community Fibre Partnership scheme, with more help now available to get connected to better broadband.

More than 100,000 premises across the UK are now part of the programme, where the digital network business splits the cost of installing faster broadband with the local community.

The milestone includes nearly 6,000 households and businesses in Scotland, where 46 partnerships are now live and another 13 are in build – meaning the average size of the community to benefit is only around 100 premises.

In many cases, the local contribution can be partly or entirely covered by broadband vouchers, like the UK Government’s new £200 million UK-wide Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) Programme.

Rural premises with current broadband speeds of less than 30Mbps can now use vouchers worth up to £3,500 for each small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs), and up to £1,500 per residential premise, to support the cost of installing new gigabit-capable connections.

Many of the communities have chosen a full fibre network offering broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps – enough bandwidth for a family of four to all stream ultra HD or 4k quality movies simultaneously, with no buffering.

It means they have access to the fastest residential broadband network in the UK, as Openreach accelerates its full fibre build with a target of reaching four million UK homes with by March 2021.

The CFP scheme is available to any community, particularly properties that have not yet been not included in any existing private or publicly subsidised upgrade schemes. A recent independent report estimated that the scheme generates, on average, around £800,000 of benefits to each community and increases the value of an average property by around £1,700.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director for Scotland, said: “Our Community Fibre Partnership programme is bringing fast, reliable broadband to some of Scotland’s most challenging areas which other providers struggle to reach. We’ll never say no to any community that wants better connectivity.”