Super fast rural broadband is a key issue for us in the Wells constituency, speeds are infuriatingly slow.
Super fast broadband has the power to unleash the true potential of our vibrant and varied economy and the wealth of talent that exists in our communities, from eBay entrepreneurs to farmers and everyone in between.
It’s also important socially – internet shopping, gives senior and less mobile citizens more independence and allows them to stay at home, Facebook and Skype keeps us all in touch with friends and family, school homework and pupils’ support is available online and Jobcentre Plus advertises all its work vacancies on the internet.
It’s hardly surprising that this is one of the most commonly raised issues in the countless letters, surgery visits and emails (many entitled ‘hope this works’) which I receive on a weekly basis, all expressing exasperation. Despite big promises during a flying visit to my patch from the Minister in charge, nothing much has changed and the service we receive is totally unacceptable.
I recently asked the Minister responsible the following Parliamentary Question:
Tessa Munt (Wells) (LD): I spoke to the Minister again in July about broadband in my area, and showed him the map of the proposed coverage. It seems that exchanges just a couple of miles away from main roads such as the A38 and the A370, where fibre-optic cables were laid years ago, cannot be connected, and—to use BT Openreach’s description—the “poor-quality cables” around new cabinets that have been fitted in places such as Wells mean that previously generally reliable but slow services running at 750 kilobits have become desperately unreliable and pathetically slow, at about 250 kilobits. There is no point in changing the provider, because all the signals are carried over the same wires. What do my constituents have to do to get superfast broadband?
Mr Vaizey: We are delivering superfast broadband to Devon and Somerset, and under our programme, which is worth some £50 million, it will reach 90% of premises. However, as my hon. Friend says, this is a very complex engineering project which involves very complex work. I am particularly happy to praise the work that BT has done in many areas where it is already well ahead of schedule.
My next step will be to quiz the Secretary of State on the progress he had made since his visit and will keep local people updated on his answers.
7th November 2014