Cambridgeshire: The 24 villages earmarked for full-fibre broadband in expanded rural rollout

Thousands more rural homes and businesses in rural South Cambridgeshire are set to have full-fibre broadband networks built in their villages.

Thousands more rural homes and businesses in rural South Cambridgeshire are set to have full-fibre broadband networks built in their villages and gain access to some of the fastest and most reliable speeds in the UK, County Broadband has announced.

In the latest boost to the region’s growing reputation for world-class digital connectivity, we can confirm that 24 villages are now earmarked to receive the new Hyperfast infrastructure in 2021, totalling around 9,400 premises.

Speeds up to 1,000 Mbps will be available – nearly 20 times faster than the UK average.

Construction of the future-ready networks, backed by a £46 million private investment, has started in three villages: Fowlmere, Newton and Thriplow.

Another five have also met the sign-up threshold that is required to give the green light to build the networks: Broughton, Great Eversden, Little Eversden, Orwell, and Whaddon. Construction is due to start over the coming weeks in these villages.

Meanwhile, a further 16 villages are also covered in the expanded rollout following growing demand for better broadband amid the pandemic, and are close to securing enough sign-ups to also approve the plans, County Broadband said.

They are: Abington Pigotts, Barrington, Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth, Bourn, Guilden Morden, Harston, Haslingfield, Kingston, Litlington, Little Gransden, Longstowe, Meldreth, Shepreth, Steeple Morden, Toft, and Waresley-cum-Tetworth.

Engineers have been granted key worker status amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The networks are hoped to go live by Spring 2021.

Click here to get Hyperfast Broadband

Prime minister Boris Johnson is relying on local providers like County Broadband to achieve his flagship target of UK-wide gigabit-speed connectivity by 2025. It forms part of his “infrastructure revolution” to catch up with the rest of the world and support the Covid-19 economic recovery. The news also follows his fresh advice to work from home if possible over the next six months.

Chief Executive Lloyd Felton said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of our creaking copper infrastructure that is stifling productivity and holding back innovation at such a critical time.

“Boris Johnson has told the nation to remote work but some of us, like in rural Cambridgeshire, can’t even have a Zoom call. We need the new networks now more than ever.

“That’s why we’re driving our plans to build Hyperfast full-fibre networks in these initial 24 villages with great gusto.

“We’re delighted to have already starting building the future-ready networks in several rural communities to help restart the economic engine and give Cambridgeshire, a renowned high-tech powerhouse, a huge investment in its infrastructure to support residents and businesses.”

The deployment of full-fibre broadband could be worth £5.38bn to the East of England economy over the next five years, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

The UK fell 13 places in global rankings for internet speeds and is now among the slowest in Europe in 47th place, new research by Cable.co.uk found last month. The nation’s 54.2 Mbps average speeds are due to only 12% of premises having access to full-fibre infrastructure – meaning 88% residents and businesses currently rely on Victorian ‘superfast’ copper-based infrastructure.

County Broadband, based in Aldham in Essex, aims to provide Hyperfast full-fibre connection access to 20,000 premises across the East of England by Christmas 2020.