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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 13:06 GMT
Rural broadband makes huge impact
Broadband internet user
Nine million British households now have broadband connections
Villagers living near a UK broadband hot spot have said their successful battle to get high speed internet access has made a huge difference.

It took two years for residents of the Oxfordshire village of Ashbury, near Swindon, to raise the 35,000 needed for BT to install a broadband exchange.

It was one of the last places in the country not to have broadband access.

A survey in August revealed more than half of Swindon households have high-speed internet access.

Villager Steve Treadwell who organised the installation, said it was unfair they were punished for not having a bigger exchange.

BT initially refused to install a bigger exchange because it was not "economically viable" as the previous exchange was put in before broadband was invented.

The village of Ashbury has about 200 households on the Wiltshire/ Oxfordshire border.

Broadband was activated in the village on 18 December after the money was raised from government grants and the South East Development Agency.

It's made an incredible difference- it just changes your life
Steve Treadwell

Toby Warren of White Horse District Council, also helped villagers by organising a tendering process for the right to install the new service.

Mr Treadwell, who runs internet-based Silicon Practise, said: "It's made an incredible difference - it just changes your life.

"Before [when using dial-up] I used to dread relatives sending pictures of their children to me as it took about 45 minutes to download the images. It was impossible.

"It's definitely improved community spirit. For a while I couldn't go to the pub without being pounced on by other residents," he said.

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