Bridging the Gap

This project seeks to promote the availability of voucher schemes like Gigabit vouchers and Broadband Grants for Business to connect premises to the network. This connection is not made either through lack of knowledge or the need to purchase further infrastructure to connect the nearest cabinet or backhaul to a group of premises. It examines the practical issues in securing better connections to broadband infrastructure.

Vouchers have a value of £500 for domestic premises and £2500 for business, vouchers can be aggregated to provide larger funding to connect communities or trading estates. Voucher take-up in the District from official sources up to October 2018 was said to be 1 (but actually in Highnam)

Why Gigabit Vouchers?

Following on from the Fastershire roll out there will still be a number of premises that have not gained access to the Fastershire network. The opportunity exists to leverage FEP’s relationships to engage with communities to maximise the benefits from current gigabit network funding.

Number of Forest of Dean premises that will not benefit from the Fastershire rollout, but would be eligible for Gigabit Voucher Scheme funding.

Parish Premises
West Dean CP 674
Cinderford CP 358
Ruspidge and Soudley CP 272
St. Briavels CP 158
Coleford CP 151
Additional 28 CP 636
Total Premises Left 2249

 

Issues Identified and Addressed

  1. Poor uptake of faster broadband technology in the District generally
  2. Development of potential hub and spoke models where fastest speeds available in more urban areas in publicly accessible space such as a village community building or cafe with 30mbs available in the rest of the District so that users had resilience.
  3. Creation of cluster solutions overcoming the practical barriers and obstacles to faster speeds.

Activities

Following a practical case study, the objectives of the project are to maximise the use of the GigaBit Voucher Scheme and other schemes to minimise the number of premises that do not have access to faster broadband where that issue is created by the lack of a suitable connection. This requires:

  1. Creation of a knowledge base of available voucher schemes so that the most appropriate might be selected
  2. Discussion with premise owners wishing to upgrade their broadband service
  3. Writing and co-ordination of the voucher application process on a no win,no fee basis including the creation of clusters of premises to minimise costs of installation.
  4. Facilitation of suitably qualified contractors to complete the work efficiently to time and cost. This may include handling the customer facing activity if necessary charged to the contractor as a project manager.
  5. Enable a wide variety of compliant solutions to be offered eg Fibre to the home, Fibre to the tower, tower to the home (Wireless repeaters)
  6. Awareness of key groups such as Parish Councils, Public and Community, Education and Groups to promote the solution in the target parishes
  7. Use of How Good How Fast project to identify areas where there might be need to engage with potential premises covered by other funding solutions.

SMART Aims:

  1. To engage as a pilot with the Brockweir group experiencing difficulties of getting improved connection in April.
  2. To engage with at least half of the 2,249 identified premises spread across the Forest in 2020 so that they are aware of the possible voucher. Engagement will depend uptake and numbers of clusters identified given the time constraint.
  3. Apply for vouchers for 250 premises or 10 clusters through the voucher scheme with an 80% success rate.
  4. Explore additional voucher and funding schemes that will enable additional higher speed broadband connections in the District to enable continuation beyond December 2019.