A NEW cycle route linking Essex University to Wivenhoe could pave the way for high speed internet in the town.

Essex County Council has run a consultation on five possible routes for the cycle path.

Colchester Council said if one of four options involving Colchester Road is chosen it could use the opportunity to install open access fibre optic broadband to Wivenhoe.

A report by council officers said: “Allowing for fibre optic cabling within the design of the cycleway potentially offers construction cost sharing with the fibre provider and reduced disruption for residents.”

Paul Smith, councillor for business and resources at the borough council, said: “We are well aware about the need to improve broadband speeds across the borough with benefits not just for private users, but businesses as well.

“Our partner, County Broadband, has already done some installations in areas such as Abberton, mainly using line of sight technology, but Wivenhoe presents a problem geographically because it is well shielded by Clingoe Hill.

“The tricky part is always the cost, but there is some national and county council funding available.

“This is an encouraging situation and it may be that by doing the cycle route we could substantially reduce the costs of putting in the cable.”

Funding of £250,000 for construction of the cycle route has been put forward by the university as part of a planning agreement, allowing it to build a multistorey car park on campus.

Ginny Waters, owner of the Wivenhoe Bookshop, said: “Having fibre optic broadband would definitely be good for us.

“The speeds are not terribly fast here – it’s not really bad, but obviously the quicker, the better.

“All of our ordering to suppliers is done online and we sell books online and run a website, so we really are on the web a lot.

“Anything which can be done to improve the speeds would be welcomed.”

Jane Knight, the owner of Wivenhoe Pets, added: “At the end of the month I am going mobile and no-longer having a shop, so the internet will the basis of my business.

“Having faster broadband would be fantastic.

“Our service at the bottom of Wivenhoe is OK, but I do find it slower at the top end where I live.

“It can be quite frustrating.”