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Rural Villages Better Connected Thanks to Fund

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Business News | Rural Villages Better Connected Thanks to Fund | Andover & VillagesResidents in Ashmansworth and Crux Easton are celebrating a vast improvement to their Wi-Fi broadband infrastructure network, thanks in part to a council grant.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council awarded the parish council £14,130 from the Communication Improvement and Technical Infrastructure Fund to financially complete the community-led project.

The rural villages, due to their high rural location, had previously suffered from poor connectivity and an inadequate network.

Ashmansworth and Crux Easton local action group (ACE), driven by Alan Cox, chairman of Ashmansworth Parish Council, investigated broadband solutions for Ashmansworth, an area outside of BT’s broadband roll out plans. The aim was to create a high speed network of point-to-point wireless technology capable of delivering high speed broadband.

The local community independently raised £20,000 before applying to the borough council for the remainder of the money needed to deploy a network able to serve 55 properties in the area. The work was then carried out by Gigabeam (Viridian Communications Ltd) from Winchester.

A mast in the village now links to the internet via a mast in Winchester and the signal is distributed by bouncing it in a relay to each property, which has a small antenna and a router.

The Communication Improvement and Technical Infrastructure Fund supports the council’s commitment to support sustainable growth in the borough for commercial enterprises, home workers and in education, as well as improving residents’ quality of life.

Cabinet Member for Digital Innovation and Inclusion Cllr Hannah Golding said: “Good quality high speed broadband can be the key to success when it comes to education, employment and social inclusion.

“As more and more services go online we recognise that the need to access superfast and ultrafast, reliable and affordable broadband is an essential part of the council’s drive to increase digital inclusion.

“Areas in the final few percent that are outside of the current roll out and where there are no plans in place for a solution are increasingly looking to provide a community driven solution for themselves.

“Community projects, such as this one, are key to enabling areas that otherwise would be left behind in this digital age. The council needs to support these projects to ensure the digital gap does not diversely affect these communities, residents and businesses.”

Alan Cox added: "Our new broadband service has made an amazing difference by ending our isolation from the world and allows us to work from home, reducing the need for commuting.

"A reliable up as well as down link service at 30 Megabit per second gives us access to live streaming, catch-up TV, security monitoring and much else. We are very grateful to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council for its funding which made this possible.”