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Action for Market Towns Awards 2010: Uppingham Wifi Project

By • Jan 4th, 2011 • Category: Awards

Uppingham powers into the high speed broadband lane

Uppingham First Broadband projectAccess to fast broadband is vital for the development of tomorrow’s businesses.  But Britain is in danger of becoming a two-speed country, with smaller towns and rural areas consigned to the broadband slow lane.

Uppingham First Partnership in the East Midlands decided to do something about it and in a great example of localism in action has brought high speed broadband to the town.

Uppingham was helped by Action for Market Towns’ Towns-4-Towns programme, which gave them a grant to exchange experience and technical know-how with Swindon Borough Council.

Given the high cost of laying fibre optic cable, they decided to go for fast wireless access – Wifi. Working with innovative provider Rutland Telecom, a pilot project provided speeds of at least 10Mb to an estate on the north side of Uppingham, supported by the innovative Beeches Residents’ Association.

Wifi for all
Based on the success of the pilot, funding from the Welland Challenge Fund, matched by local businesses, was secured to install Wifi coverage in parts of the town through a network of miniature aerials. This will be completed by March 2011, with a final stage, which will complete provision of Wifi to the remainder of town, targeted for completion by March 2012.

A key objective of the whole project is to provide some free community access to high speed Wifi. The project includes the development of an appropriate business model that can achieve this while still making sense as a commercial investment.

The most rewarding outcome in the pilot project was to see the beaming face of an 81 year-old resident streaming high definition video onto his laptop using the new broadband capability and the clamour from local home-based businesses eager to find out how they too might benefit.

Uppingham Wifi won the Business and Economy category of the East Midlands Market Towns Awards and was also the overall regional winner.

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is As Online Communications Coordinator, Katie is responsible for the running of the AMT website and has taken the charity into the world of social media. Her particular focus is to expand and promote AMT's database of more than 400 case studies of town and community projects - regularly cited as one of the most valuable aspects of AMT Membership. Katie's previous experience ranges from PA to an internationally-renowned architect in London to Manager of the Responsible Tourism Awards for responsibletravel.com in Brighton. Katie works on Tuesdays and Thursdays and can be contacted at katie.fewings@towns.org.uk
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