Dear Neighbour,                                5th February 2016

Things may seem to have gone rather quiet since we posted the wonderful fund raising total in mid January, but in fact we have been busy adjusting the Project to take account of recent news from HCC/BDUK, [Hampshire County Council/Broadband Delivery UK].

BT Openreach [BTOR] have decided to bring fibre to the Fordingbridge 2 cabinet in North Gorley under the HCC/BDUK rollout - funded by them.   This cabinet affects our Community schemes 1, 2 and 3 and while it is good news for the southern section of our Community it does change the basic design of our Project.

As we understand the new BTOR proposals, all residents in Scheme 1 will be able to access the speed bands we were predicting for them. In addition, Schemes 2 and 3 will also receive a faster service, though at reduced speeds from those that we were suggesting within the Community Scheme.

While this change is good news, we must expect that the majority of those households in Schemes 1, 2 and 3 will withdraw their pledges, as they will benefit from BT’s ‘free scheme’. This would mean that our ‘one for all and all for one’ design would no longer be viable.

Our Project was designed for the benefit of the whole community and the cost of installing all 6 cabinets was added together, with households then asked to pledge towards the whole scheme.  Due to the fact that scheme 1 is going ahead without cost to us we have had to review all the remaining schemes in terms of costs and amounts pledged by those within each scheme.   It may still be possible to commission our scheme 2 & 3 plans, but we can’t calculate the costs involved until we see how many wish to stay in or withdraw; schemes 4 and 5 look strong, whereas 6 is not so hopeful.  

88% of the money needed for Schemes 4 and 5 has been pledged by those living in those areas, with a shortfall of only £6,941, and we think it highly likely that this gap can be raised by those householders.

Scheme 6 was the most difficult and costly of all the schemes and only 21.5% of the money needed has been pledged by households covered, with a shortfall of £33,614.  We have definite ideas for this scheme and we will need to consult with all the households to help identify solutions that might enhance their current position.

As you can see there’s rather a lot of detail to review and so we will be writing to each group of homes early next week outlining the options for your Scheme/area of the community. We will also be updating our website next week so please visit it regularly.  

Thank you for your support for our Community Broadband Project, the biggest of its kind in the country. In spite of the changes forced upon us, we remain firm in our hope that 427 of our 475 households will benefit from faster broadband as a result of our Community effort.

Sincerely,     Peter Dowling & Roly Errington