When it came to Internet connectivity, for the residents in the rural village of Appleton in Oxfordshire, the choice was between slow and nothing at all. Appleton’s broadband connection used old-school copper wire and major network providers had no plans to upgrade it any time soon – even with Government funding. Villagers decided to take matters into their own hands.
For Appleton resident, Julian Morris (66), browsing the Internet was painfully slow. Applications such as the iPlayer were virtually impossible to use and downloading a one hour programme would take all night. Video calls with Skype to keep in touch with the grandchildren were completely out of the question. Keen to improve their Internet connections, a group of like minded Appleton residents joined forces and researched what alternatives were available.
Julian comments, “There were a number of rural broadband initiatives out there, but they usually required significant time and investment from residents to run and manage the service. We found this approach hard to justify. Instead, we needed a solution from a sound commercial organisation which we could simply subscribe and easily connect to. That’s why we chose Gigaclear.”
Gigaclear is a privately funded communications operator dedicated to building and operating ultrafast broadband networks in rural communities in England. The Appleton Broadband Group was formed to garner support for the new network from the wider village community. Soon the campaign for ultrafast broadband in Appleton gained momentum through word-of-mouth and a Gigaclear open day.
“The open day made people realise what they’d been missing out on for all these years because of poor broadband. As soon as they saw for themselves the benefits offered by the ultrafast alternative, particularly where iPlayer was concerned, they were on board.” continues Julian. With the requisite 30 per cent of homes committed to signing up to Gigaclear, in order to make the project viable, construction on the ultrafast network commenced in August 2012. Julian’s house was one of the first in the village to be connected to the new network in October 2012.
“Since connecting to Gigaclear, we’re able to take full advantage of the Internet in a way that just wasn’t possible before,” he continues. “We watch TV shows using BBC iPlayer without interruption, access our daily newspapers online and most importantly have regular and reliable Skype conversations with our grandchildren. We’ve also installed a Vonage Voice over IP telephone connection which has proved excellent value for money. Additionally, I’m now able to work just as efficiently at home as in the office. This means that I can miss the rush hour completely and have a better work / life balance.”
“Since the Gigaclear network went live in Appleton, I’m now getting calls from businesses and friends in other villages who are facing the same problems and looking for advice on what to do. My response is always the same – don’t wait for something that might never happen. Instead, take control and motivate the village to do something with a company that is prepared to make the investment. You’ll never look back.”