Herefordshire seeking volunteers to assist broadband rollout

Tuesday, August 30th 2011
The county council is aiming to enlist a group of local broadband champions.
Herefordshire seeking volunteers to assist broadband rollout
Herefordshire Council is looking to recruit volunteers to become local broadband champions and help promote the benefits of high-speed internet access across the county.

The initiative has been launched by the local authority in the wake of Ofcom figures that showed Herefordshire is lagging behind much of the rest of the UK in terms of connectivity.

According to the telecoms industry watchdog, the county's average sync speed is 5Mbps, well behind the 7.5Mbps figure recorded throughout Britain as a whole. Just under a quarter of Herefordshire homes receive speeds of less than 2Mbps, while super-fast broadband availability currently stands at zero per cent.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the council is looking for volunteers to help bring improved connections to rural parts of the county, reports the Hereford Times.

One of the first people to put themselves forward is scientist, broadcaster and university lecturer Toby Murcott, who has been tasked with keeping residents in Abbeydore and Bacton up to date with the Borders Broadband initiative.

A partnership between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire county councils, the scheme is aiming to bring next-generation connectivity to 100 per cent of local properties by the end of 2018.

Mr Murcott will show that demand for super-fast broadband exists in Abbeydore and Bacton, and highlight the "immeasurable" advantages that the technology offers to residents and businesses.

Elderly people will be able to keep in regular video contact with their friends and family or use webcams to consult with their GPs if Herefordshire's broadband infrastructure is improved sufficiently, he explained.

"The main reason I'm doing this is for my three-year-old daughter, because when she goes to school, she won't be able to get the most out of it unless she has access to faster internet," Mr Murcott added.

Earlier this month, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced Herefordshire has been awarded £6.35 million from its £530 million funding pot for national broadband improvements.

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