Why are we (still) waiting for superfast broadband?
A village in a remote corner of the Westcountry fears it is stuck in the slip road on to the information superhighway.
Residents of Stoke, a village on the Hartland peninsula in North Devon, say that far from getting superfast broadband along with 95%of the country – they are not even on course to get the speeds of at least 10 Mbps which the government has promised everyone in the country would be entitled to by 2020.
And John Ritchings of the Stoke Broadband Users’ Group said they were not alone, with many other small rural communities in the same boat.
“We were told we would get superfast broadband in 2014, and it’s now 2018,” Mr Ritchings said. He now fears it will not happen “before 2022, if ever”.
Eight MPs from across Devon and Somerset have written to Connecting Devon and Somerset, which was set up to deliver the government’s broadband scheme. They said that many families and businesses, particularly in rural areas, “are being left behind as the country moves online”.
The area around Stoke has proved unsuitable for cable broadband, which is being installed elsewhere in the region by Gigaclear.
Instead Airband Community Internet Ltd is installing fixed wireless broadband as an alternative broadband solution for rural areas. The roll-out is part of the government-funded Broadband Delivery UK programme.
Mr Ritchings said that for some unlucky householders the cost of installation could approach £1,000, including the cost of planning permission for homes in the area of outstanding natural beauty.
“The problem in Hartland is that it’s a very low-wage economy so people cannot afford this.”
Simon Britton, marketing manager at Airband Community Internet, said their network would reach Hartland and Stoke as part of its
‘I fear it will not happen before 2022, if ever’
Phase 3 deployment, which is due to go live in the summer of next year “planning and access permissions permitting”.
“The transmitter site will hopefully be situated on a high site somewhere in between Hartland and Stoke and give good coverage to both.
“Where we can get a good line-of-sight, the installation charge will be our standard £99.”
The recommended router costs £75.
“The only negative planning issues tend to be where there is a vocal minority in the area who block the process – unusual, but it can happen.”