Ropley Gigabit Broadband Project Update

Following on from the Fix our Broadband article in the last issue of BisMonRopTis, we collected over 300 registrations to the programme so a huge THANK YOU to everybody who took the time to register.

Those of you who have visited the Government web site for the Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme will have seen the list of potential suppliers operating in our area, and we have been in touch with all of them. Unfortunately most of them are interested in supplying broadband service once someone else has installed it and many of these are really focused on supplying services to business not consumers. Two of them which do install the infrastructure did not feel the opportunity in Ropley was sufficiently large to justify their interest, leaving just Openreach and Wessex Internet as potential suppliers. They are in the process of evaluating our project so that they can provide initial estimates of the cost of installation and we can assess whether we are likely to have sufficient funding to progress.

While I am sure you are all aware of Openreach, most of you will not be aware of Wessex Internet. They are a supplier that has predominantly provided fibre broadband to rural communities in Wiltshire and Dorset but are looking to expand their operations, and they have proposed schemes nearby in Herriard and Lasham and see Ropley as a potentially interesting expansion to those schemes. Wessex install their broadband by burying fibre in open land behind housing developments and then running fibre to individual properties. Wessex have supplied us with a list of landowners that they would need to work with and we are currently making contact with these so that discussions can take place about access. Once these discussions have taken place Wessex will be able to provide us with an indication of pricing and viability. One of our concerns with selecting Wessex is that we would all be committed to using their service for internet provision, as opposed to having a free choice of ISP that we would enjoy if Openreach were selected, and we will need to factor this in when selecting our supplier.

We are still waiting for Openreach to provide any pricing indications. As the Government voucher funding scheme expires in March 2021 there is significant time pressure and we have elevated the situation to our MP to try and get Openreach to respond to our submission, and we await developments. Hopefully we will have more interesting news for the next issue in the New Year!

Charles Louisson