The campaign continues for high speed broadband in rural Test and Dun Valleys. To date the virtual town (consisting of Houghton, West Tytherley, Broughton, Wherwell, Winterslow, Firsdown, Michelmersh, Timsbury, Kings Somborne, Goodworth Clatford, Chilbolton and Stockbridge) has been registering their interest in the project, using Cable My Street, which has triggered Virgin Media to invest in designing a brand new fibre to the home (FTTH) optical fibre network for the area. This is a ‘proof of concept’ project for Virgin Media who have, to date, only deployed their networks in urban environments.

For the network to be built, 1000 sign-ups had to be achieved across the virtual town by the end of July 2017, but also each village needed to reach their own target of 25%.

This was achieved!

The final results are below.

In Summary…

  • The build is definitely going ahead!
  • There are no more targets for us to meet or hoops to jump through as we have successfully demonstrated demand.
  • As all villages met their 25% sign-up targets all 12 villages will be in the build.
  • The build should be complete by the end of 2018.
  • VM’s design and marketing team have now stood down and their implementation team have taken over.
  • A steering group has been formed consisting of the build project manager, community liaison and public affairs from VM plus representatives from WTBBG. They will meet regularly starting now until the end of the build.
  • Comms from VM and from WTBBG will be relatively quiet for now whilst VM appoint the build contractors and prepare for the build to start. Once the build is underway comms will naturally increase.

The Latest Update

October 2017:  In short the process is progressing steadily and in the right direction at Virgin Media.

  • The VM build manager already been in the area on several occasions, most recently at a village meeting for Wherwell residents. At this meeting the VM team, which included Community Liaison Officers, met with residents to talk about the details of the build for their properties and to begin to get way-leaves signed where required.
  • There is another similar meeting confirmed for Chilbolton 7.00-8.30pm on Friday November 10th in Chilbolton Village Hall.
  • VM have confirmed that the build will take place in two phases, starting the in the New Year with those villages along the main trunk route i.e. the Test Way between Andover and Romsey, which includes Goodworth Clatford, Wherwell, Chilbolton, Stockbridge, Kings Somborne, Michelmersh & Timsbury. Phase II will see the build head west across the river towards Houghton, Broughton, West Tytherley, Winterslow and Firsdown. The plan is that Phase II will start once Phase I is underway – it is not dependent on Phase I being complete.
  • VM plan to be in all the Phase I villages for meetings with residents before Christmas and to then hold similar meetings in the Phase II villages in the New Year.
  • VM have been contacting the Phase I Parish Clerks for those villages with whom they are ready to meet, but in some cases the response hasn’t been very quick from the PCs so we have enlisted the kind support of our village champions to help get these village meetings set up.
  • The build contractor is still to be confirmed, but they have narrowed down the decision to one of two.
  • HCC and Test Valley Borough Council, including Highways, are all aware of the plans although final permissions are still to go in.
  • We will keep our website updated with all the latest FAQs and village meeting dates as and when they are confirmed.
  • At this stage we believe that the end of 2108 is still a realistic date for the villages to go live, hopefully some sooner than then.
  • At this stage we would say that if people are wanting to renew their current telecoms contract to do so, but to ensure that it is only a year’s contract.

BT’s response: It seems that BT has responded (as anticipated) by targeting a few of the villages with the promise of FTTP over poles, in most cases. This has included a tiny section of Wherwell and one road in West Tytherley (where currently there is still no FTTC in the village!)

Please get in touch with any queries. We appreciate your patience, but rest assured although things have gone very quiet there is a lot going on behind the scenes with which we are still very much in the loop.