Mon, 11 Jun 2018
ASHMANSWORTH residents were so fed up with slow internet speeds and ‘complacency’ from BT they clubbed together to solve the problem themselves.
They managed to raise £20,000 towards the £34,000 cost of bringing superfast broadband to the village using a private company.
The remaining shortfall of £14,000 was provided by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council from its Communication Improvements and Technology Infrastructure Fund.
Ashmansworth was also provided with a grant from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) of £350 per household for routers and antennae.
Speaking at the Ashmansworth Parish Assembly on Tuesday, May 22, the borough council’s cabinet member for digital innovation and inclusion, Hannah Golding, said: “BT is covering 95 per cent of the country, but that means five per cent of the country would not be covered.
“Being connected to the internet is clearly a part of everyday life and I am pleased that speeds are improving in Ashmansworth.
“That is what the Communication Improvements and Technology Infrastructure Fund is about – improving lives.”
In 2016, the village’s broadband was initially provided by BT.
However, due to the distance to the Highclere exchange, villagers were experiencing speeds of less than 2Mb/s.
Residents claim that BT promised to bring superfast broadband to the village, but before it started the process it changed its mind and dropped Ashmansworth from the list.
It was then that villagers started to explore other options, which were limited due to the size and remote location of the village, which has around 50 properties.
Most wireless and fibre providers were reportedly not willing to offer their services and residents deemed that satellite services were too expensive, had poor latency and provided low data limits.
The only company that was prepared to offer the service was Gigabeam, based in Itchen Abbas, Hampshire.
It worked out it could provide a radio link between the village and the mast in Winchester.
In October 2017, the first villagers were connected to the Gigabeam network.
Now most of the homes in Ashmansworth and Crux Easton use the service and get speeds of 10 to 30 Mb/s.
Ashmansworth Parish Council chairman Alan Cox said: “Since Gigabeam started, BT have installed a cabinet, although I don’t know if it is wired up.
“There are only about two houses which did not go to Gigabeam and stayed with BT, so there are only two potential customers for BT at the moment.
“Everyone has signed a two-year contract with Gigabeam, so in about 18 months we will find out what will happen.
“I’m quite annoyed with BT for installing a cabinet in our village.”
A BT Openreach spokesperson said: “The fibre broadband cabinet in Cross Lane is due to go live at the end of June and will be able to provide access to fibre broadband to the village of Ashmansworth.
“Our records show that it was delayed from late 2017 due to civil engineering challenges and the work is now complete.”