Rimmer’s Quest for Broadband Continues!

For many years, over 16 in fact, I’ve been waiting for broadband at my property. Not superfast you understand, just bog standard plain ol’ broadband. When we first moved here, the only ‘broadband’ option was Home Highway from BT (aka ISDN). After a couple of years, BT removed the service saying ‘everyone can now access broadband’. As you may recall from my previous ramblings, we’re 11km from the exchange and that broadband signal just can’t get that far down the copper before it fizzles into nowt.

I’ve been very vocal since Superfast Berkshire received £8M from the Government back in 2013 to bring broadband to this county. Unfortunately, they awarded the contract to BT who did not want to service the sparsely populated rural communities. So, Superfast Berkshire then awarded the rural contract to Gigaclear. As a specialist in providing broadband to rural areas, we were highly optimistic. Having signed up on their website about 18 months ago, it was encouraging to see them laying the fibre about ½ mile away from our lane on the main road earlier this year. 

Email correspondence with their delivery team revealed that the service should be live later in 2019 so we all waited with bated breath…….. Only to receive a letter earlier this month informing us that Network Rail were obstructing completion of the circuit as they would not allow Gigaclear to traverse a bridge they owned!

Due to this delay, BBC South got in touch with me again and further interviews with BBC South and BBC Radio Berkshire ensued on 10th and 12th September respectively. The reporter was at my house for over an hour on the 10th and then the interview was broadcast the next day on 11th September. You can view the (poor) recording here of the TV interview. Apologies for the poor quality but I recorded it off the TV with my iPhone as I was away horse riding in the New Forest when it was broadcast! Am sure there was an easier (and better) way to record it, but as it didn’t stay on iPlayer for too long I wanted to save it for posterity!

Despite having moved on from my satellite broadband to a mobile data network, I’m still paying a premium – around £60/month – as are my neighbours. FFS!! Fast speed Internet access is a utility in the 21st century and we are being deprived of it because Network Rail has its knickers in a twist about allowing a third party onto their land.  There are service ducts on their bridges for other utilities, so why obstruct Gigaclear?  The Government pledged to provide superfast broadband (which interestingly they state as being 24 MBPS – huh? that’s not fast IMHO!) to everyone in the UK. Yet one Government department (Network Rail) is obstructing another department (Gigaclear operating on behalf of Superfast Berkshire) from delivering this pledge.

I do appreciate the Government has a certain larger topic on its plate right now – no, I won’t bring myself to utter the “B” word – but really this is just another situation that highlights the current Government is not acting in the best interests of the population – at least not the small population of my rural community.

C’mon you jobsworths over at Network Rail – get ya finger out and complete the circuit so that we in my community can join the majority of you in the digital 21st century!!!

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………