A village on the outskirts of Horsham has been chosen as the only place in England to test new broadband-boosting technology.
Around 19 premises in the picturesque village of Plaistow - population under 5,000 - have been selected to take part in the first commercial pilot of a new technology to increase the speed of fibre broadband over very long phone lines.
The only other places taking part in the pilot scheme - known as Long Reach VDSL - are in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The pilot scheme builds on the success of trials which began around the country last summer, with Plaistow becoming the first of six new locations that have been picked to help Openreach understand how the technology can improve broadband speeds for more homes and businesses across the country.
Being subject to the laws of physics, broadband speeds tend to slow down over long distances, so Openreach is working to find a solution to that challenge. Long Reach VDSL operates at higher power levels and makes use of a wider range of frequencies to increase broadband speeds and the distance over which they can be delivered.
Openreach has migrated all eligible Plaistow lines to the new technology and, if it proves successful, they will remain in operation at the higher speed for the foreseeable future.
Early results, says Openreach, have been positive with most households seeing a significant increase in their fibre broadband speeds.
Kim Mears, Openreach MD for infrastructure delivery, said: “Long Reach VDSL can potentially improve speeds for thousands of homes and businesses across West Sussex and the rest of the UK – particularly those connected by long lines.
“Getting faster speeds to rural communities is one of our biggest priorities. We believe we can get fibre-based solutions to almost 99 per cent of homes by then end of 2020, including the use of Long Reach VDSL and our current plans would see most homes in the final five per cent of the UK receive speeds well in excess of 10Mbps.
“This technology is a great piece of British engineering, but it is not something Openreach can just implement alone, so we’re delighted to be working with a number of our service provider customers on these pilots to make sure it works with their home routers and TV boxes.”
Stacey King, BT’s regional partnership director for the south east, said: “Being able to test new technology like this in a real-life setting is a crucial step before being able to deploy it on a much wider scale.
“I hope people in Plaistow will see real improvements in their broadband speed as they help us find an answer to the challenge of delivering faster, fibre broadband over longer lines.
“I’m acutely aware of the frustration this causes for those at the end of these lines. We’re working hard to develop technology to help us fill the remaining gaps in the UK’s high-speed broadband jigsaw.
“Plaistow could prove to be a significant part of the puzzle.”
The picturesque village of Plaistow was chosen due to its remote location, and the fact that two existing fibre street cabinets which serve the village support a cluster of long lines where download speeds are currently less than 10Mbps.
Openreach says it will apply the new engineering solution to any broadband lines in Plaistow that it believes will benefit.