Broadband boost for 36 rural south Cambridgeshire villages

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Work begins on the County Broadband infrastructure
Work begins on the broadband infrastructure (Photo: Gregg Brown)

Thousands of rural homes and businesses in south Cambridgeshire are set to have full-fibre broadband networks built in their villages, capable of some of the fastest and most reliable internet speeds in the UK, it can be revealed.

Specialist rural broadband provider County Broadband has confirmed that an initial 36 villages have now been earmarked for funding. The rollout is a major infrastructure project that will replace the existing part-copper ‘Superfast’ networks with “future-ready” full-fibre infrastructure, with some villages being completed by the end of 2021.

Full-fibre broadband is significantly more reliable than all other broadband provision, capable of delivering up to 1,000 Mbps, around 12 times faster than the UK average. The government has a flagship target of 85% of UK homes having access to Gigabit-speeds by 2025 and is relying on local providers like County Broadband to fulfil this pledge to ensure Britain’s broadband can “catch up with the rest of the world”.

The 36 villages in the south Cambridgeshire rollout are broken down into three categories: construction started; proposals approved and awaiting construction.

The community broadband provider, backed by a £46m private investment from Aviva Investors, has confirmed that construction has started in five villages: Fowlmere, Newton, Meldreth, Shepreth and Thriplow.

A further 18 villages that have also met the sign-up threshold and construction is due to start by the summer: Abington Pigotts, Barrington, Bassingbourn Cum Kneesworth, Bourn, Great Eversden, Guilden Morden, Harston, Haslingfield, Kingston, Little Eversden, Little Gransden, Litlington, Longstowe, Orwell, Steeple Morden, Toft, Waresley cum Tetworth, and Whaddon.

In the latest announcement, County Broadband is expanding its rollout to an additional 13 villages: Abbotsley, Abbots Ripton, Barton, Comberton, Colne, Great Gransden, Kings Ripton, Old Hurst, Pidley cum Fenton, Upwood the Raveleys, Wistow, Woodhurst and Warboys.

Public meetings, including online events, are set to take place for residents and businesses to learn more about the rollout. If enough people sign up, County Broadband will build the multi-million pound full-fibre infrastructure for the community.

James Salmon, Director of Sales at County Broadband, said: “The pandemic has accelerated our demand for the internet, whether that’s shopping online, working from home, video calling or simply streaming more television content. Whilst it’s true many of us have just about managed with the existing Superfast copper networks, it won’t be long until this current technology is no longer capable of delivering the reliable speeds we’re going to need in the near future.

“However, building real full-fibre networks, free from copper, takes time and involves a complex infrastructure construction process. If we wait until the last minute, it will already be too late. We therefore need to plan ahead and build today so people receive what they expect in the future. That’s why we’re urging local communities to get involved and register their interest in these projects, to ensure homes and businesses can future-proof their broadband services.

“As we emerge from lockdown, we don’t want rural south Cambridgeshire to be left behind in the post-pandemic recovery. We’re investing millions of pounds in full-fibre infrastructure to help turbo charge the economy by boosting productivity and attracting new businesses to the region”.

Full-fibre broadband could be worth £5.38bn to the East of England economy over the next five years, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Full-fibre broadband uses fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure in which fibre optic cables are installed directly into the premises, offering download and uploads speeds of 1,000Mbps. It replaces fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) Victorian copper-based infrastructure on which ‘Superfast’ is based.

Residents and businesses in south Cambridgeshire can check if they are covered in the rollout by entering their postcode at