Monday, 07 November 2016 10:23

Wi-fi scheme launched for village halls

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Wi-fi scheme launched for village halls

A NEW scheme lets rural residents access superfast broadband via a hub installed in their local village hall.

Superfast Essex is the county's broadband improvement programme which is working to make Essex one of the best connected counties in the UK.

Run by Essex County Council, the programme has so far enabled more than 65,000 homes and businesses to access superfast broadband speeds.

Further work aims to extend coverage more widely still.

Under the scheme, community hubs – such as village halls or community centres – can buy a broadband service from two approved suppliers, APC Solutions or County Broadband.

Initial set up costs will be supported by the Community Initiatives Fund (CIF) and community hubs will subsequently need to pay a monthly service charge.

The CIF is a small grants scheme funded by Essex County Council.

Money from the CIF has been set aside to help community hubs pay for the setup costs of a Wi-Fi service as offered by the two service providers under this scheme.

Up to £400 can be claimed per community hub by completing a short online form similar to the general CIF application process.

Essex County councillor Penny Channer said: "Our aim is to encourage and support communities to make use of the upgraded infrastructure being installed by the Superfast Essex Programme.

"We're really pleased the CIF has been able to help make this scheme possible. The scheme is aimed at but not limited to community hubs enabled to access superfast broadband."

Councillor Channer said the scheme could provide additional value to village halls when it came to attracting prospective users looking for somewhere to hire.

The Community Wi-Fi Scheme is supported by the Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) and the Essex Association of Local Councils (EALC).

It was presented to delegates at the RCCE Village Halls Conference in October, generating initial interest from around 15 communities.

Representatives from APC Solutions and County Broadband were in attendance to answer any questions about their services and are in full support of the scheme.

More information on the Community Wi-Fi Scheme including costs and how to apply can be found at superfastessex.org/communitywifischeme.

Application forms for funding for the Community Wi-Fi Scheme can be found on the CIF website at essex.gov.uk/CIF.

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