12:00pm Friday 30th May 2014
By Miran Rahman
Campaigners working to secure faster internet speeds for rural Worth Valley are studying a possible technical solution.
Members of the group Fibre Valley, which was formed in 2011, have been arguing such provision is vital for a variety of individuals and organisations, including school pupils, businesses and people wanting to work from home.
Now, Fibre Valley spokesman Ken Eastwood says Virgin Media is putting forward a potential plan to help people in Stanbury struggling with poor or non-existent internet connections.
He said: “Essentially, Virgin Media is saying there is the possibility of providing a fibre connection to Stanbury, and is going to provide a quotation for our consideration.
“However, this isn’t to provide a service directly to individual internet users. The community, through Fibre Valley or some other organisation, may be able to enter into a business-to-business relationship with Virgin Media and provide the connectivity to end-users.
“This is an opportunity to develop a ‘community alternative network’, known as an ‘altnet’, similar to some of those provided in isolated locations in North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.”
Mr Eastwood added: “The largest alt net project in the country is probably the Broadband For Rural North (B4RN) project in Lancashire, where residents have bought shares to provide the funding required to develop high-speed, community-owned broadband.
“With B4RN, the fibre links back to the internet are also installed and owned by the community, whereas what’s been suggested to us is a slightly different proposition.
“But we’re keen to explore it further. With some energy and enthusiasm, it may be possible to develop an affordable solution.”
He added he and his colleagues are still waiting for the results of an agreement by BT to estimate the cost and viability of building a new, fibre-enabled cabinet in Stanbury so residents can benefit from faster internet speeds.
Fibre Valley is also exploring the possibility of using an initiative called the Superconnected Leeds Bradford Connection Voucher Scheme as a means of funding better internet provision.
Mr Eastwood, who lives in Oxenhope, said: “It’s good to have alternative proposals and, hopefully, to be able to compare overall costs.”
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