Lechlade and Kempsford are the first Cotswold communities to benefit from superfast broadband
SUPERFAST broadband has been launched in the Cotswolds thanks to a scheme aiming to bring the state-of-the-art technology to the whole county by the end of 2015.
This week Lechlade and Kempsford became the first Cotswold communities to benefit from the Fastershire project with MP Ed Vaizey, the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, flicking the switch. It signals the start of a £56.6 million project to take fibre broadband to 90 percent of the Cotswolds by 2015.
The new system will boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently.
Mike Jenkins, the owner of Lechlade wine merchants Vin Est, said his trade was dependent on good internet connections and better broadband meant better business.
“We sell a lot of our stock online and people often find out about the business from Google maps so the broadband has got to be fast,” he explained. “Faster broadband will also allow us to use video technology in order to boost business.”
As well as faster web surfing Lechlade town councillor Sue Coakley explained how the superfast broadband will mean more people can work from home, allowing families to spend more time together.
The Cirencester-based rural network ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) also welcomed the news.
ACRE chief executive Janice Banks said it would bring a lot of economic advantages to the rural areas.
“Businesses can communicate much more easily with suppliers, win new customers and access new markets. Employees can work remotely, cutting down on the need for office space and travel.
“Farmers will have the ability to use new digital services, such as gaining access to a vet online, using video footage of animals - and receiving Common Agricultural Policy payments online from 2015.
Ms Banks also welcomed the social benefits that the modern technology will deliver and explained: “For families in rural communities, who often have to travel miles to access services, being able to shop and bank online will make a real difference to everyday lives.
“Children will be able to access the internet to help them with their homework, and being able to join virtual communities through social media will benefit people of any age who feel lonely or isolated. People will have greater access to information about health, benefits and advice services.”
Ms Banks said it was regrettable that five percent of the UK will still be without fibre broadband until after 2017 but that funding would hopefully become available to isolated communities.
The Cotswold town and village were not the only British areas to welcome the fibre broadband on December 18. When the Department for Media, Culture & Sport announced the “switching on” last week, 5,000 homes and businesses went live in areas including Hampshire, Kent and Cheshire.
The total number of premises included in the rollout of the Government programme is expected to exceed 200,000 by this Christmas.
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