December 7 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 26, 2013
The number of properties boosting their online speeds following the launch of the “Better Broadband for Suffolk” campaign has not been as great as expected so far.
The first BT cabinets to have their broadband speeds upgraded under the scheme were switched on in Suffolk at the start of August, but Chris Bally – the county’s assistant director for business development – told a meeting of its scrutiny committee that officials had not seen the demand they had expected so far.
The first 15 cabinets have been upgraded to receive broadband from fibre-optic cables. Once the programme is completed about 400 boxes across Suffolk will have been upgraded.
The scrutiny committee meeting in Endeavour House took place on the same day that parliament’s Public Accounts Committee published a critical report into the government’s handling of the better broadband scheme and in particular the closeness of its relationship with BT – the only bidder to offer such services in most of the country.
At scrutiny there were also concerns that despite the original claims, the number of properties likely to benefit from the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign would not be as high as hoped.
One of the problems is that the campaign cannot extend to those areas where BT is introducing broadband on a commercial basis.
However some areas that were originally planned for commercial broadband – like Haughley Green in Mid Suffolk – have now been dropped because they are considered uneconomic yet they cannot be considered for the subsidised scheme.
They could be included in a future scheme if more government funding becomes available – but not for the present programme which is due to run until 2015.
And Halesworth councillor Tony Goldson warned the meeting that many people would be disappointed by the scheme: “You go abroad and you find all areas have broadband speeds of 100MBpS (MegaBits per Second) but here the speeds will be much slower than that – and the number of properties connected to what there is will only be 85 to 90%.”
BT Openreach manager Kev Black told the meeting that the broadband speed would depend on the distance between the final user and the cabinet that supplied the signal – but he said that the copper wire used was able to cope with faster speeds and technology was speeding it up all the time.
After the meeting Mr Bally said he hoped the demand for faster speeds would increase – it was up to users to contact their internet service providers who could then ask BT wholesale for the faster speeds.
He said: “Some of the cabinets are near areas that already have some broadband connection so some people might not see the benefit of increasing their speeds from eight to 25MBpS, but those who go from less than two to 25MBpS would certain welcome the faster speeds.”