Have broadband speeds moved for you? Please give us your views on the superfast rollout programme
Several people have got in touch with Marlborough News Online who are worried about what is happening to the superfast fibre broadband rollout being organised by Wiltshire Council. They have read that the First Phase is over with 62,000 premises in Wiltshire connected to high-speed broadband. And they read that Phase Two has secured £3.86 million more funding.
The official forecast is that: "This new investment should bring superfast fibre broadband to more than 5,000 additional homes and businesses across Wiltshire."
The new Phase Two funding includes £2.46 million from the government, £0.5 million from Wiltshire Council and £0.9 million from BT.
Phase One saw a joint £35.6 million Wiltshire & South Gloucestershire superfast rollout scheme. Funding came from the government, from Wiltshire Council (£16 million), South Gloucestershire Council, BT and the European Regional Development Fund.
The prospect of superfast broadband does not, we are told by these worried people, bring with it better communication from the Council informing council tax payers and broadband users how their money is being spent and how soon they might edge into the twenty-first century.
Here is one customer's experience of the scheme:
Recently I went onto the Digital Wiltshire website and my post code registered that my fibre service had 'Gone live"'(on a nice green background.) How exciting was that! But when I then went, as advised, to the BT Broadband Availability Checker site I was still told my ADSL Max Downstream Line Rate was up to 0.75 Mbps and my Downstream Range was 0.75 to 2. Then I got totally lost in some strange jargon. But I did notice that no figure for present broadband speeds for my post code was above 3.5 Mbps.
Then I came across this: "Throughput/download speeds will be less than line rates and can be affected by a number of factors within and external to BT's network, Communication Providers' network and within customer premises." That seemed to say that any of the above figures were optimistic maximums. Great news.
Yesterday I tried again on the Digital Wiltshire website. I find my postcode has been bumped off 'Gone live': "This post code is included in Phase 2 and detailed planning will start in 2016." Despondency.
I then read: "High level planning for Phase 2 has been completed which has identified those postcodes that have been included..." Go for it! Except that it goes on: "...subject to survey. Update early next year."
This is simply not good enough. I checked my broadband speed and it read 2.18 download and 0.63 upload. Not good enough at all. By the time that gets wi-fied to my iPad it is something like plus-or-minus 1.1 - depending, of course, where I am sitting in the house. I have recorded a disastrous 0.06!
The other day I was told by BT that if I wanted to upgrade my hub - which 'might' increase my speed a little bit - I would have to pay for the new one. Such are the financial implications of BT's Sports Channel with its costs for rights and talent right up there in, I'm told, Premier League earnings.
Do Wiltshire Council realise that this is now affecting my house price and saleability? Have they noticed that online estate agent sites now include broadband speeds? Have they ever tried to run a small business on my broadband speeds?
As a start I am going to begin a campaign for a reduction in my Council Tax.
Another customer's experience:
The Openreach engineers installed the large green cabinet in our main street just a few yards down from our house. The installation process was quite substantial and regular questionning of those putting the cabinet and its services in made clear that all was ready to go.
That was several months ago.
Since then, every attempt at contacting either BT, central Government (DCMS - Department of Culture Media and Sport) or Wiltshire Council has drawn a complete blank. Enter the postcode on the DCMS website and the following message comes up:
"It looks like superfast broadband may not be available in your area yet, but it could be coming to you soon through Government and local authority investment."
The Wiltshire Online site is slightly more optimistic - 'Installing Now' is the message received, but with no helpful indications as to when this process will be completed (although the engineers gave a very different answer months ago). Call BT - they have no idea, the area isn't on their list of 'areas in progress' at all.
This is against a background of an ever-slowing broadband service. Nine years ago it was quick, it started to slow dramatically about three years ago, and now a very good download speed will be just over 6mbps whilst uploading - help! A good upload speed is anything above 0.3mbps. Send an e-mail with an attachment of any size and it will time out.
Frustration is borne out of the ignorance of all parties involved regarding a service that is ready to go and has been for some time, exacerbated by the gradual deterioration of the existing service.
So long as the MNO editors know who you are (name and address) we will, of course, accept confidentiality and put contributions as being from 'Anonymous'.