In February 2021 a group of Amport residents initiated the process to apply for a Fibre Community Partnership (FCP) to bring Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) to give Amport homes and businesses modern internet speeds. Under this scheme, the Government provided a voucher worth £1500 per home or £3500 per business to offset the cost of installation.
We leafleted properties and had initial indications of interest from about 80 houses in Amport and East Cholderton. In May 2021 Openreach gave us an initial rough estimate of £223,000 for 180 premises (i.e. £1,238 per property, if all signed up). However, many of the premises included in that estimate were in Penton and Fyfield, and we asked Openreach to refine the proposal to focus on Amport and East Cholderton.
In October 2021 we advised Amport residents whose houses are on the Abbotts Ann exchange (i.e. those which are to the East of Sarson Lane) to enrol onto the Abbotts Ann scheme, which most of them did.
In January 2022, Hampshire was amongst those included in the Government’s latest Project Gigabit Procurement Process, which is an alternative to the Government subsidy of Openreach schemes. This procurement process was expected to last about 8-9 weeks, i.e. to conclude around March this year; and the Gigabit Voucher scheme was suspended for those areas included in the procurement process, including Hampshire (Phase 1b, Lot 27). However, at the time of writing in late June, that process has still not concluded.
Also in January 2022, Openreach undertook a detailed survey of Amport and East Cholderton lines, visiting individual houses in order to provide a more accurate estimate of what it would cost to deliver their FTTP scheme.
In June 2022 we received a second proposal from Openreach which offered to provide fibre to 139 properties for £391,000 (i.e. £2,816 per property if every property signed up). This offer from Openreach is not likely to be affordable to the majority of residents, especially as the Gigabit Vouchers are not currently available.
The Parish Council discussed the latest Openreach proposal at their meeting on 20 June 2022 and agreed that the best course of action was to wait for the outcome of the Gigabit Procurement Process and then take a view on which route to pursue. The Parish Council also agreed to engage with Test Valley, Hampshire County Council, and also our MP, to ensure that our concerns with the failure to conclude the Gigabit Procurement Process are understood.
Robert Talbot Rice