10:00pm Thursday 27th February 2014
By Maggie Hartford
DOTCOM entrepreneur Matthew Hare is on to his third company – but he still doesn’t have fast broadband at home.
A resident of Stanton Harcourt since 1999, the founder of ultrafast broadband provider Gigaclear has a unique insight into the problems of Internet users who live in rural communities.
Mr Hare previously ran CI Net in Kidlington before selling it to MDNX in 2010. When he sold his second company, ts.com – which offered web-based ticketing – he knew just what to do next.
He said: “When I ran Community Internet (CI Net) we provided internet services to small- and medium-sized businesses.
“Typically they had up to 20 to 30 people working at home, all on digital subscriber lines, using copper phone lines. There were endless problems.
“Performance was not good enough in rural areas. Every time it rained people would drop off their network and couldn’t do their work.”
Despite £1.2bn of public funds to boost rural broadband, he said many communities will still be cut off.
The Government project involves installing fibre-optic cable to the green cabinets used for BT phone lines, but he said not everyone would benefit.
“People who are more than 1km from the fibre-optic cabinet are not going to see much improvement and not everyone’s phone line is connected to a cabinet. Lots of phone lines are connected directly to the exchange.”
One of Gigaclear’s first successes was the villages of Appleton, Eaton and Besselsleigh, where more than 150 households now have broadband.
It followed a two-year campaign by residents annoyed that they could not download films or watch TV via the Internet – and by home-based businesses which need fast connections.
He said: “In Standlake, there are 183 direct exchange phones. That’s one of the reasons why Standlake is trying to get enough people to subscribe to our service for us to be able to connect them."
By the summer, Gigaclear expects to have about 150 contractors installing the fibre-optic cable needed for faster broadband. Another 15 work at the company’s office at Harwell Innovation Centre.
He said: “The installation work is messy for a few weeks but once it’s in, it’s there for 50 years, passing as much data as people want.”
Digging is under way in Stanton Harcourt, with almost a third of residents signed up.
“Hopefully at some point in April I will get a broadband service myself,” said Mr Hare.
Next in line could be Otmoor communities Beckley, Noke and Horton-cum-Studley, plus Stanton St John and Water Eaton, with interest from Kingston Bagpuize, Southmoor, Wootton and Boars Hill.
The company is also busy in Kent, Rutland, Leicester and Hampshire.
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