Superfast Rural Broadband

This year I’ve been interviewed twice by BBC Radio Berkshire and once by BBC South Today.  I am very passionate about the fact that BT cannot, and will not, provide the infrastructure to allow a broadband connection in my area.  Yes, reader, we do not have broadband AT ALL!  The Government has announced a programme to roll out superfast broadband to rural communities, an abstract from www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk is below:

Rural programme

As part of our ambition to to achieve a transformation in broadband in the UK by 2015, government has allocated £530 million during the current spending review period to stimulate commercial investment to roll out high-speed broadband in rural communities.

On Friday 4th October, Berkshire announced a contract with BT for £8M to deliver superfast rural broadband to 91% of the region.  I was interviewed by the BBC as one of the 9% who won’t have access to this.  My argument is that we live 10 minutes from Junction 8/9 of the M4 and not having any broadband from BT is unacceptable in this digital age.  But the bottom line is, as we’re a community of only 20 or so houses that are 11km from the exchange, for BT to lay the infrastructure to provide us a broadband service is just not economically viable.  From a business perspective I do understand this, really I do.  However, when taxpayers money is involved I want the funds to be apportioned to where they’re really needed and my neighbours and I need BT broadband.  As I said on my radio interview (listen here at around 1hr 9 mins), humans cannot exist in today’s world without online access, I think I also referenced it being a human right, which is pretty strong I know, but I am passionate about this subject!

For the privilege of online access I have to pay over £90 a month for my satellite broadband.  As I work from home, this is cheaper than renting an office, but why should I be penalised for living where I do?  A BT engineer once said to me “look at where you live, it’s gorgeous.” My reply was, yes but I want to live here AND have broadband from BT!

More recently another BT engineer said it is unlikely we will EVER get broadband out here from BT.  I guess we’re going to have to rely on 4G to deliver us an acceptably priced broadband service, not BT.

I’ve expressed my desire for funding to be allocated from the £8M to lay the infrastructure to provide us BT Broadband to the councillor responsible for this project, David Burbage, and have encouraged my neighbours to write to him also.  As of today, I’ve not had a response from Mr. Burbage, not even an acknowledgement of my email, which I find just rude frankly.

Perhaps he listened to my interview on BBC South Today news on Sunday 6th October, hopefully someone from BT’s PR team did, hopefully SOMEONE will listen to me and provide my community the basic requirement of broadband from BT 🙂

Anyone listening?  Mr. Burbage? BT? Hello………

3 thoughts on “Superfast Rural Broadband

  1. Anything is possible and I am certain that there will be examples of network infrastructure longer than 11 km in Northern Ireland, Superfast Cornwall and so on. I hope you are in the intervention area for broadband/improvement. If Superfast Berkshire is anything like Connecting Devon & Somerset – the plans are top secret and there is little transparency to understand where and when as regards broadband.

    I have been ignored by Devon County Council more than once so I know how it feels and it is rude. But there are others you can approach such as your MP and so on. Good Luck – the Third World when it comes to broadband is alive and kicking in the UK.

  2. Dear Jane,

    It should never have been called a “Rural Broadband” scheme. I think a better title would have been a “Heavily publicly subsidised extension of BT’s Commercial Roll-out” scheme. Speeds in the very rural areas starting to slow as more and more people come on-line and are then persuaded to sign up to
    bandwidth hungry packages from Sky and Virgin as well as BT. Looking ahead, if £250m nationally (and maybe £20m difficult-to-manage
    DEFRA money) is all there is to finish the job across the whole country,
    it will never happen if BT is handed the task (which may happen) and doesn’t embrace wireless, or subcontract to wireless and/or 4G providers, or
    rapidly come up with a technological fix for long
    lengths of rural copper cable.

    It’s entirely unsurprising that a report from the estate agents Knight Frank
    this week stated that good broadband provision has become the predominant factor when people are looking for a rural property. Reports from Scotland say that rural areas are starting to depopulate where there is no likelihood of good broadband. I know of one large property locally where the sale fell through because there is no broadband. So this is probably of
    concern at national level with a general election coming up and the rural
    vote of value to the Conservatives.

    Rurral county authorities need to learn from the disastrous BDUK/BT process that has got us to where we are. They need to collectively lobby national politicians to ensure that a solution is agreed which arrives at parity of provision for rural residents and businesses, and one which isn’t tacked on to the end of the current roll-out but takes place in parallel.

    Kind regards

    Patrick Cosgrove
    South-west Shropshire and Marches Campaign for Better Broadband

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