Innovative funding gives Hagbourne village superfast broadband

An innovative use of Openreach and UK Government broadband funding schemes has allowed people living in a rural Oxfordshire village free access to some of the fastest broadband available.

Approximately 90 households and two businesses in East Hagbourne are set to benefit after a novel approach to fundraising saw the village contribution covered by two grants.

Parish Councillor and broadband co-ordinator, Cordelia Gover, said: “After making contact with Oxfordshire County Council, they pointed me in the right direction for community schemes and government-backed Gigabit Voucher Scheme, once we took a closer look at the plans, we realised that because fibre cabling would be laid past the village school, we were eligible for Openreach’s own community grant scheme, covering most of the installation cost.”

Charles Stutley, Annette Crewe and Cordelia Gover of Hagbourne Community Fibre Partnership. Picture by Simon Dael/@stellapics ltd

As part of the UK Government’s commitment to a ‘full fibre’ broadband Britain, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme launched this year. It’s potentially worth £67m to UK businesses who can claim up to £3,000 funding against the cost of a gigabit connection, either individually or a group project.

Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership programme has made a £2 million grant fund available for communities across the UK to get superfast or ultrafast broadband. Grants up to £30,000 of new fibre infrastructure are available as long as it serves the local Ofsted registered (or equivalent) school or learning establishment.

Hagbourne’s Community Fibre Partnership is the 600th Openreach has agreed across the UK. The scheme allows the cost of installing a new fibre network to be shared between the village and the company.

“I cannot thank our Openreach community liaison manager enough for her efficiency in pulling this huge project together.As a result, we are all now very excited about receiving our dramatic improvement in connection speeds!”

Charles Stutley, who is one of the businesses operating in East Hagbourne that applied for the Gigabit Voucher, said: “This is wonderful news that the vouchers and grant to the school have been accepted. It will make a huge difference to all of our lives at the end of the village and I’m thrilled that we can bring East Hagbourne into the 22nd Century! We will all be very grateful to be able to communicate properly with the outside world either for pleasure or for business.”

The work in East Hagbourne adds to the already impressive Oxfordshire network, where more than 96 per cent of homes and businesses can already access superfast broadband.