THE arrival of hyperfast broadband in a coastal north Lancashire village could help ensure its future vitality, says a key figure in the community-led project.

Residents of Silverdale gathered at the parish rooms next to St John's Church to celebrate the switch-on of the 1,000Mbps fibre-optic network.

Many brought along their smartphones, tablets and laptops so they could experience at first-hand the benefits of hyperfast internet speeds. The connectivity is the result of months of digging trenches by hard-working volunteers from B4YS - the community scheme Broadband for Yealand, Silverdale and Storth.

"People knew about it in back of minds but they were amazed to see it up close and personal," said community broadband volunteer Tim Mackintosh, of Silverdale.

Downloading a full-length DVD movie could now take just 38 seconds, compared to five hours 13 minutes on an old copper-wire 2Mbps connection. Sending 200 photos could take five seconds, rather than 40 minutes.


"For people in Silverdale it's also a business opportunity," said Tim. "Lots of people in the village are doing things like Ebay, and it's about sending information quickly to one another and making a living."

Tim described hyperfast broadband as "a cottage industry in a pipe", telling the Gazette: "There are going to be lots of people coming to the village with ideas to use hyperfast broadband. This is going to put young people back into the village so they can live and work here. It's going to breath life across the board."

The new fibre-optic network, which reached the basement of St John's Church, Silverdale from Yealand Village Hall, is also described as future-proof, equipping villagers for advances such as 3D and holographic TV.

Some three dozen Silverdale homes have already been linked up to the B4YS network, and Tim said that 80 per cent of villagers wanted to be connected. The one-off charge is £150, plus £30 monthly.

Meanwhile, campaigners who lost their fight to save Silverdale library from closure are still hopeful that Lancashire County Council will see the benefit of having the country's first 'gigabit library' - a hub with 1,000Mbps internet speed.

Tim explained that Silverdale could become a Wi-Fi hotspot, able to beam broadband to remote events such as festivals, or emergency situations such as a road crash or cockling disaster on Morecambe Bay, to enable people to keep in touch more effectively.

Silverdale Parish Council has set up a sub-group to explore ways of keeping the library open as part of Lancashire's library services.

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