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Hampshire Council Add 400+ New Forest Homes to FTTC Broadband Rollout

Thursday, February 9th, 2017 (8:23 am) - Score 475
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The Hampshire Superfast Broadband project in England, which is working with Openreach (BT) to roll-out “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) to 97.4% of local premises by 2019, has announced a deal that will add 400+ extra premises in the rural New Forest area to their coverage.

At present the project’s next goal is to reach nearly 96% of local homes and businesses in the county by September 2018 and they’re already well on their way to achieving that (24Mbps+ coverage currently sits at around 92%), while the follow-on Wave 2 contract reflects the later 97.4% target for 2019 (details here); the jump from 90% to 97.4% coverage reflects an extra 43,000 premises.

However until now there has been no firm agreement on the rural New Forest National Park, which is considered to be an Area of Outstanding National Beauty (AONB) and so gaining planning permission for any broadband infrastructure upgrades can be somewhat more challenging.

The good news is that stakeholders including Natural England, New Forest National Park Authority, Verderers of the New Forest, Forestry Commission and New Forest District Council have now agreed to a network extension deal that will benefit more than 400 properties via four new ‘up to’ 80Mbps capable FTTC (VDSL2) Street Cabinets.

The New Forest Coverage Plan
* 200 properties in East Boldre near Hatchet Pond
* 90 properties in Burley
* 90 properties in South Gorley near Fordingbridge
* 60 properties in Brockenhurst

Overall the county council has so far committed £12.9m of public funding towards the wider project, with £16.4m coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme, £1.25m from district councils and £7.6m being contributed by BT. The overall total is £38.2 million.

Councillor Mel Kendal said:

“It’s been important that we consider the proposals very carefully, as we want to ensure that the work will not have an impact on the special and unique qualities of the New Forest National Park and its free roaming livestock. I’m pleased that we can now take forward these proposals and help bring faster internet connections to many more homes in the New Forest, in future.

Significant challenges remain in Hampshire to reach the final few dwellings, where proportionately more expensive infrastructure is needed for a smaller number of properties. However, we are alert to the challenges and are working hard to find a solution for these areas, such as facilitating discussions with satellite broadband or self-funding providers.

We await details from the Government on how this will be tackled nationally.”

It’s worth pointing out that the New Forest agreement won’t receive formal approval until a 56-day statutory notice period for public comments has elapsed, which is due to run until 31st March 2017 before any work can take place. Hopefully there will be no significant objections to faster broadband, but not everybody shares the same viewpoint on such upgrades in an AONB.

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Mark Jackson
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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