Why are we (still) wait­ing for su­per­fast broad­band?

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Uk And World News - BY KEITH ROS­SITER

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.”

John Ritch­ings

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