Hopes that Bradley Stoke might be amongst the first areas in South Gloucestershire to benefit from a programme of government investment in superfast broadband infrastructure were dashed last month when South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) announced that the rural communities of Pucklechurch and Wick have been chosen to receive the upgrade in the first phase of the project.
Bradley Stoke broadband users on 01454 numbers, served from the Almondsbury exchange, are now unlikely to see any improvement in connection speeds before summer 2014 at the earliest.
The problem of slow broadband speeds affects the approximately 4,000 homes in Bradley Stoke that aren’t covered by Virgin Media’s cable service, meaning that they are dependent on BT infrastructure, even if using a service from another telecoms provider such as TalkTalk or Sky.
Many local consumers experience speeds as low as 1Mbps (compared to the national average of around 9Mbps), meaning they are unable to use services like ‘catch up’ TV and movie streaming.
To compound the problem, few (if any) Bradley Stoke residents have so far benefited from BT’s self-financed upgrading of the Filton telephone exchange, announced in April 2011. The Journal understands that only one street cabinet in the town has so far been upgraded to provide the superfast service.
When we asked BT how many subscribers in Bradley Stoke were able to access the new service, the company declined to comment, saying the information was “commercially sensitive”.
BT’s own online broadband availability checker is currently quoting September 2013 as the projected availability date for its superfast service to 0117 numbers in south Bradley Stoke, although past experience suggests that this date could slip as it gets nearer.
Bradley Stoke town and district councillors have been campaigning for many years to see broadband services in the town improved, but have so far achieved very little.
In August 2010, a party of Bradley Stoke councillors joined local MP Jack Lopresti in a visit to Westminster to speak with Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, who promised to write to BT and Virgin Media.
Speaking at a recent committee meeting in Bradley Stoke, Cllr Brian Hopkinson said it was “disgusting” that nothing has been done to improve the situation.
Photo: Jack Lopresti MP and South Gloucestershire Councillors representing Bradley Stoke discuss the town’s broadband problems with Communications Minister Ed Vaizey in August 2010.
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