Wiltshire Online Programme – news update

The Wiltshire Online programme has the overall aim of removing the barriers to getting online for the residents of Wiltshire. Cost, skills and infrastructure have been identified as the three biggest barriers and progress is being made to remove all three.

Summary of Progress

  • The Great Western Broadband (GWB) Superfast rollout has released the names of the first communities to benefit from the project and residents will be able to order improved broadband from Spring 2014
  • BT, Power Companies, Planning and Highways teams have been working together on a joint Location Protocol to ensure a smooth and time efficient process of surveying and reporting locations for new fibre enabled green cabs.
  • BT have been working behind the scenes to update and upgrade their exchanges
  • We have now installed public Wi-Fi in 75% of Community and Youth centres, all libraries and council offices that have public access
  • Carer Support Wiltshire are now promoting and distributing low cost refurbished laptops to their service users
  • The Wiltshire Online team has been speaking at UK conferences as there is national interest in our volunteer programme

Public Wi-Fi

All libraries now have free to the end user Wi-Fi access with over 200 users using the service daily. We are steadily progressing through the second stage of the rollout with 75% of Youth and Community centres now Wiltshire Online Wi-Fi enabled. Safeguarding is in place to protect our young and vulnerable users when using the Wi-Fi as the network is enabled with South West Grid for learning filters, the same filters as used in most Wiltshire schools.

Digital Literacy

The lack of skills is a huge barrier to getting online with over 68,000 adults in Wiltshire having never been online and many more have tried and been put off due to lack of knowledge or confidence.

Funding is now available through your local Area Board to support local digital projects.  The funding is for capital projects – items that can help support people to get online, things like:

  • Wifi in public halls and buildings
  • Training room equipment
  • Computers, printers and IT hardware
  • Cabling and infrastructure

If you have a project in mind, why not make an application online – start now!

Our ambition is to have Digital Champion volunteers active (delivering free computer support) in every community area supported by an Area Coordinator Volunteer. We now have an Area Coordinator assigned to each community area. We have active teams of Digital Champions delivering support in 13 community areas. For the remaining areas we are working through a programme of recruitment, training and induction to ensure we have a team of Digital Champions ready and able to deliver free IT support.

Central Government Broadband Delivery UK have asked the Wiltshire Online team to present at several national conferences including the Digital Inclusion: Enhancing Engagement and Skills, Improving Lives’ conference in London. Wiltshire is considered to be at the forefront of designing and delivering a digital literacy programme.

GWB Broadband rollout

Over the next three years we will ensure that at least 91% of all premises across Wiltshire are able to access superfast broadband and that all premises in the intervention area are able to access a minimum standard broadband service by March 2016.

To deliver fibre broadband requires the completion of a number of stages. As with any complex and wide scale infrastructure deployment there are areas which will be delivered earlier than others as the time it takes to work through each stage will vary from street to street, parish to parish. The rollout is due for completion in Spring 2016.

The rollout is being designed to ensure the network provides the greatest possible coverage of superfast broadband with the available funding. We are taking into account many factors, including geography, planning requirements and the location of the existing telecoms infrastructure. These factors will dictate the order of the rollout. This approach will ensure the best value for money, but it does mean that we cannot prioritise specific locations and deviate from how the network will be rolled out across the area, as doing so would result in a time-consuming and costly project, and would ultimately reduce the number of premises we are able to deliver superfast broadband to.

On Monday 24 June Wiltshire Council announced the first communities in Wiltshire that can order super fast broadband in Spring 2014 as Royal Wootton Bassett, Purton, Alderbury and Downton. This was the first announcement of quarterly updates we will make available. The Wiltshire Online website will host the most up to date information at all times.

Residents and businesses are keen to know when they will be able to access super fast broadband and what speeds they will benefit from. We are very keen to work with Area Boards to help us disseminate a clear and concise message.
At this stage we are still working through the planning and surveying stage and we can only make available very high level information. When we have completed the surveying stage for each area we will have a robust action plan, this is when our residents will see work on the ground. For the first phase of communities this will be in January 2014. The Wiltshire Online team will then make itself available to each Area Board to coincide with the programme rollout. We will ensure we contact you before our rollout reaches your community area.

During these early stages the Wiltshire Online website will host the most up to date information.

Low cost laptops

Wiltshire Council donated 150 laptops to the scheme. Each laptop has been wiped and refurbished with a Microsoft operating system, Libre Office and commonly used software. Each laptop along with a case and mouse will be made available at a cost of under £60.00. Costs have been kept low as only the cost of refurbishment is passed on.

The pilot with Age UK Salisbury went incredibly well with all the 30 laptops distributed to recipients within four weeks. Most recipients spent at least an hour with an Age UK advisor so they felt comfortable with their new laptop.

Most recently Carer Support Wiltshire has received 30 laptops and has promoted the project in their regular newsletter. Once again there has been a huge interest in the laptops. Carer Support Wiltshire has opted to assess each potential recipient over the phone to ensure they are going to the families that will really benefit. They have distributed over half to date, this email sent to them by a grateful recipient speaks volumes about the positive impact this project has

“Just to let you know my email address and that I’m online now, hurray. Many thanks, having this laptop has made me feel a normal person, in this current day and age of technology, you really do need to be online”.

Over the next period we will be working to identify a third partner and identify potential case studies that we can use as we work to develop the next phase of the project and explore more sustainable sources of laptops.

General queries

The Wiltshire Online website (www.wiltshireonline.org) is intended to be the first port of call for any member of the public. We will regularly update the website throughout the course of the programme.

Sarah Cosentino
Business Analyst, Programme Office
Wiltshire Online

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