Hanley Castle Community Broadband Project (Oct 2020)

Hanley Castle Broadband update:


Openreach have now finished installing Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) to much of Hanley Castle and surrounds, and the many people included in the village scheme are now enjoying the benefits of the best of high-speed broadband at no individual costs to themselves. With Covid-19, many people have now become even more reliant on a fast and reliable broadband connection for working from home, with Zoom online meetings being suddenly common and video calling becoming important for families to remain in contact, not to mention online learning, TV, gaming and file sharing.

The availability of this  FTTP connection makes the Hanleys an even more attractive place to live for anyone contemplating home working, many of whom now view a fast broadband connection as an essential service, almost as much as a connection to the electricity grid. In my own case, I find myself taking part in Zoom video-conferencing meetings and downloading papers at the same time, while my partner Sue simultaneously has an online video exercise class – something we simply could not do with our old slow ADSL connection. Our new fibre connection is now over 100 times faster than the speed we previously had.

If you were signed up to be part of the original scheme, you should have found, as I did, that Openreach were great at routing the fibre to the best and most convenient points for your particular property and you should by now be receiving your new service. If you chose not to sign up at the time, it is still possible to change your mind and benefit from the network that has been installed; Openreach have allowed for this in their installation. However, there may be some additional installation costs depending on where the nearest fibre access point is to your property.

FTTP is capable of gigabit connections now and, should the need arise, more in the future. Right now it is more than enough to meet any home working or domestic demands for broadband and is by far the best technology for future-proofing your internet connection. It guarantees that should the need arise for even faster connections it can deliver speeds not possible with older technology, such as FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) which, although providing good speeds for much of Malvern right now, has limited scope for improvement.

I find it reassuring to know the physical infrastructure is now in place to give us all confidence that the village will not be left behind in a technological not-spot. Although coming technologies like 5G hold out the prospect of much better mobile data connections, coverage will be far from universal for the foreseeable future and 5G data contract costs may well be pretty steep.

The Hanley Boadband team led by Sara Beadon consisted of Jackie Bass, Nick Lechmere, Peter Jordan and Bill Bell. It took over two years of effort by the team and we raised approximately £250,000 in grants to make the project possible. As the project is finalised, the DCMS (Department for Culture Media and Sport) will be checking with some properties to ensure they are getting at least the speeds promised by Openreach as part of the scheme; this is a simple audit of Openreach and FTTP should pass this check easily.


Bill Bell