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UPDATE Tiny Village of Claverton co-Funds BT Fibre Broadband Rollout

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 (11:19 am) - Score 4,326

A tiny rural civil parish village called Claverton in Somerset, which is home to around 115 people (70 homes) and resides near Bath in England, has apparently become the first such UK village to privately co-fund with BT to build a completely new “fibre broadband” (FTTC) network.

Unfortunately BT has refused to tell us how much the community itself contributed to the project, which is apparently deemed commercially confidential, although the operator did say that almost every household in the village made a contribution. Similarly we do not know how much BT itself contributed, although the project was probably quite expensive.

As part of this effort engineers from BTOpenreach installed 2 kilometres of underground ducting and 4 kilometres of overhead and underground fibre optic cable, including two new roadside street cabinets. Just to be clear, one of the cabinets was a bog standard one for pure copper ADSL + Phone services and the other was used to deliver ‘up to’ 80Mbps Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology.

Prior to the work it’s understood that most locals were only able to receive broadband download speeds of less than 1Mbps (Megabits per second) and thus the new connectivity has delivered a significant boost to the community, which clearly didn’t want to wait and see if the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme would ever get around to them.

Dr Rodger Sykes, Campaigner and Parish Councillor, said:

We realised the high costs involved meant Claverton would not be upgraded as part of BT’s normal commercial fibre broadband roll-out for some time, so we set about working with the company to jointly solve the problem.

It has been hard work over three years to get to where we are today both for the residents of Claverton and the BT people involved, but we have worked together very well. Claverton residents really appreciate the benefits superfast broadband can bring and are excited at the thought that this project provides everyone in the community with the kind of speeds we could only dream about having in the past.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of NGA, added:

The people of Claverton are true national trail-blazers and are setting the pace for rural communities through their collaboration with BT. They have worked tirelessly with us to turn this ambitious project into reality. Their enthusiasm and commitment is infectious and we’re pleased to have worked in partnership with them.

We’re working in partnership with local authorities and communities to make high-speed broadband available in the more challenging areas of the UK. There are many examples of us doing so, but this is the first village to work with us on creating an entirely new broadband network for the local community.”

Apparently locals are now also clubbing together in order to provide WiFi at the village church so that, in the absence of a village hall, it can play a greater role in community activity.

It’s of course possible to read this story in one of two ways. On the one hand it shows that BT has the capacity to adapt and deliver a useful service by working with a very small community, but on the other hand it’s arguably a bit sad that the community felt it had no other option than to donate money to get better broadband.

UPDATE 21st May 2015

One of our readers noted that some estimated details for the project’s cost were actually made public and after some digging we found a related 2013 document from the Claverton Parish Council (it’s always nice to breakdown those secrecy barriers). At the time this is what they said.

Claverton Parish Council Statement

Cllr Sykes updated the Parish Council that the Claverton Broadband working group have now received the draft engagement offer from BT Openreach for the installation of the necessary cabinet equipment to enable the upgrading of the Broadband service to the village to Infinity (superfast broadband).

The required community contribution cost is £40,081 exclusive of VAT. VAT at 20% will add a further £8,016 to the cost. The total cost including VAT is £48,097.20. This is a fixed price contract, providing it is accepted within a 60 day period. If the contract is signed by the end of August BT will also commit to the project being completed by May 2014.

It’s worth pointing out that the final cost may have changed since then, not least because Openreach was in discussion with HMRC as to the necessity of charging VAT on projects of this type.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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