There’s little New Year cheer for consumers suffering from appalling internet connection speeds in Bradley Stoke with the news that both South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) and BT have slipped key dates on broadband improvement projects.
SGC announced in November 2012 that BT had been chosen as its preferred supplier for it £2.2 million project to bring superfast broadband to 90% of the district by April 2015 and said it expected to sign a contract with the telecoms giant in “early December”. That date has now been quietly put back to “the end of January” with the delay being blamed on contractual issues between BT and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the Government agency overseeing the state-aided work, and the need to “recheck the project model” after Swindon Borough Council pulled out of the Great Western Broadband partnership that also includes Wiltshire County Council.
Meanwhile, BT’s self-funded upgrading of the Filton telephone exchange, announced nearly two tyears ago, has yet to bring any benefit to residents of Bradley Stoke on 0117 numbers. The broadband checker on the BT website is currently indicating a projected availability date of June 2013 for superfast broadband at a randomly selected property in the south of the town, which is six months later than originally promised.
Recent efforts by the Town Council to engage with Virgin Media, whose superfast-capable cable network already covers half the town, have only met with frustration. The Town Clerk wrote to the company in June 2011 and October 2012 asking them to consider extending their network but no reply has been forthcoming. A letter sent to Virgin’s complaints department about the lack of response has also gone unanswered.
Despite the promised investment, there is no guarantee that the SGC project will bring superfast broadband to consumers on 01454 numbers, served from the Almondsbury exchange. According to the SGC’s own figures, 21,000 properties in the district qualify for state assistance because they are in areas that are unlikely to receive superfast broadband from commercial providers but less than half of these are guaranteed to get superfast speeds through the Council’s project. The remaining properties will receive assistance to access a “standard broadband” service of at least 2Mbps, which is likely to be viewed by many consumers as being inadequate.
The Journal estimates that around 4,000 properties in Bradley Stoke are eligible to benefit from the SGC broadband project, with around 2,000 of those currently receiving speeds of less than 2Mbps (the national average is currently 9Mbps).
More info: Broadband in South Gloucestershire (SGC)
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