RESIDENTS and businesses in South Herefordshire settlements are being urged to sign up to an offer to upgrade and future-proof their broadband infrastructure before it expires at the end of March.

Much Dewchurch, Wormelow, Much Birch, Little Birch and Orcop Hill have the opportunity to upgrade their broadband through the Wormelowexchange, enabling a faster and more reliable service,with the help of government broadband vouchers.

The infrastructure upgrade will be delivered by Openreach and Coun Toni Fagan is urging local residents to take up the offer before it expires.

“I would really urge residents and businesses in these communities to use this opportunity to upgrade the broadband service of every house in the Wormelowexchange. If we miss this round of government support it could be years before we can properly future-proof our broadband needs,” said Coun Fagan.

“The government is offering every household free vouchers to enable Openreach to upgrade from copper to full fibre broadband.

“This is important for those who have businesses, work from home, have children who need broadband for their education and everyone who will increasingly need the internet to access services or keep in touch with family and friends.

“It will mean that everyone in the exchange has a reliable broadband service with greater speeds. Currently those who are close to the cabinets get a good service and those on the edges can have patchy and unreliable broadband. If all internet users pledge, even those who currently have a decent service via copper, it will have enormous benefits for the whole community.

“We are rapidly moving into an era where the internet will be used for a large proportion of our household needs. We must use ever opportunity to prepare our infrastructure for this change.”

The free vouchers simply require households to pledge to use a full-fibre broadband service when the infrastructure upgrade is complete- this will mean a cheaper and faster internet service. But the scheme will only be built if enough households sign up to it. 

Openreach has identified the settlements as being within scope for full fibre through new technology and is urging local people to take the next step by applying for free Government Gigabit Vouchers to help fund the build.

Residents can check if they qualify and pledge their voucher on the Connect My Community website. Using the vouchers – which don’t cost residents anything – enables Openreach to work with a local community to build a customised, co-funded network. The vouchers will be combined to extend the ultrafast, ultra-reliable network to premises in outlying rural areas which will not be covered by private investment.

David Linton, Openreach Partnership Manager,said: “Our Fibre Community Partnership programme has meant that we’re able to potentially bring hundreds more communities across the UK into our full fibre build plans. But building out the network to these harder to reach locations is still challenging – which is why it’s only possible with everyone working together.

“Everyone who pledges a voucher will be doing their bit to help make these villages among the best-connected places in the UK.”

Once the pledge target for the scheme is reached, residents need to ensure they then validate their vouchers with the Government so that Openreach can confirm that building work can get underway. As part of the funding conditions, residents must commit to ordering a full fibre service from a provider of their choice for at least 12 months once the new network is available.  

A meeting will be held on Tues 26th March at 7.30pm in Much Birch Community Hall to answer any questions on full fibre broadband and the Openreach scheme. Anyone wanting to join the meeting online can contact Coun Fagan at