New Upper Valley group plans superfast network

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Proposals for our community to leap-frog anything available from big commercial companies are to be unveiled at a meeting in Hebden Bridge on Wednesday 19th November by Calder Valley our Net (CVON). (White Lion, 8pm)

CVON has just been given a vote of confidence by the Community Foundation For Calderdale with a grant of £5000.

The UK’s first high-speed broadband network owned by (and for) the community is the CVON solution to the outdated technology currently on offer.

Internationally recognised experts behind a transformational communications network in the Dutch town of Nuenen have shown how a scheme could work in the valley stretching from Todmorden to Sowerby Bridge.

The network would give local people access to ‘super-fast’ phone, video and internet services and enable health, education and inclusivity benefits. It would use a ‘next generation’ fibre network.

Neunen’s OnsNet or OurNet network belongs to the people and is organised through a co-operative association. OnsNet founder Kees Rovers, knighted for his work by Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, developed a model for generating very high levels of demand for fibre to the home in areas not generally recognised as commercially viable by traditional operators.

Kees Rovers has said "The fact that it becomes “Our Net” means that most citizens would love to be connected."

In Nuenen 80 per cent of the local population belong to OnsNet, whom they pay for their phone, TV and internet services. Costs have been kept down as the aim of the co-operative is to meet the needs of its community rather than maximising profits.

Optical technologies will enable companies to do business hundreds of times faster than current broadband speeds. The high speed, big bandwidth network and its capabilities is particularly important to the new creative industries which are already vital to the Calder Valley, and also for other media industries, the health sector, and finance.

A ‘next generation’ fibre network would help people to get involved in their community and access health, education and other services, from video conferencing with their family doctor to improving security through monitoring services.

Shaun Fensom, of the Community Broadband Network (CBN), told a meeting last year that the Calder Valley was in danger of once again being left behind. He said that the CBN "will actively support any community that wanted to pioneer fibre in the UK, especially if the network is open and really owned and controlled by the community".

Francesco Ciao, commissioned by HM Treasury to review the barriers to 'next generation access', told a CBN conference in Manchester on November 4th that "building a network has traditionally been associated with big companies but there is going to be a major shift to local communities being the owners of their own networks and picking the service providers they want to go on it", according to the BBC.

The public meeting will take place on Wednesday 19th November at the upstairs room, The White Lion pub, Hebden Bridge, at 8pm.

See also

Hebweb News - Second generation broadband: report of 3-C public meeting in Mytholmroyd - December, 2007

"The network that powers the next generation of broadband is going to be radically different from the one we currently have." BBC News, November 2008

Fibre; from dream to reality - Closing the gap, in Holland

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