12 Apr 2010

Better Broadband for Stroud District

A new national broadband campaign “The Final Third First” was launched last month. I have already spoken with the District Council Cabinet members and with Council Officers about launching a local campaign. This ward has received very poor Broadband services and I keep being told we are to see improvements but few come.

Indeed in a recent very small survey I conducted in Bread Street, Ruscombe, I found that eight out of eight people who replied from my email to ten people said their services were poor. See some of the specific comments below - slow connections, connections that drop out, and even some unable to connect to the internet because of the lack of infrastructure. However I am not yet aware of how widespread the problems are? Do drop me a line...

Many sites will do a test free for you - for example TalkTalk here and Broadband Choices do a test of your line at: www.broadbandchoices.co.uk/

Anyway no promises yet from the District Council but as soon as the election is over I will be able to push this more. It would seem that already quite a number of Councils have campaigned and met with BT elsewhere, to try and improve matters so it would be great to do something locally.

The national campaign was founded by a broad range of broadband organisations and champions of wider community interests. Their main aim is to lobby the Government to provide adequate and effective broadband access for the “Final Third” of the UK which currently lacks this vital infrastructure. The campaign will focus on ensuring that all those in the “Final Third” will be able to access Government online services by 2012 and then to facilitate the move towards next generation access.

There have been many reports that have highlighted the disadvantages of having restricted or no access to broadband in these areas - and certainly if we are to encourage and support home working then this is an area we need to get to grips with this issue.

Here are some of the statements made when the campaign was launched:

Dr Charles Trotman of the CLA, who chaired the inaugural meeting, said: “The Government’s universal service commitment to provide broadband speeds of two megabits per second (Mbps) for all by 2012 will be hard to achieve. Those living in areas known as “the Final Third” still receive no proper access to broadband, putting them at a severe disadvantage. This campaign calls for faster action on the progress already made so that everyone can benefit from the Government’s increasing array of online services.”

Lloyd Felton, Director of County Broadband and founder of the rural communities self-help portal www.ruralbroadband.com said:
"This will add significant weight to our efforts to connect Rural Communities, many of whom rightly claim to be more in need of better broadband than their urban counterparts".

Mike Kiely of www.BBBritain.co.uk said:
"No political party can be serious about transforming public service delivery unless the UK's high speed data transport infrastructure is available to all and capable of supporting key services predictably."

Aidan Paul, Chief Executive of Vtesse Networks and an active campaigner for the Final Third said
"Our own pilot projects (see www.vtesse.com/news.asp) are proving to us that with appropriate government attention to fibre rates and infrastructure sharing it would be possible to deliver super-fast broadband to the majority of final third residents and businesses. We welcome the additional focus that "The Final Third First" campaign will bring to the issue. One third of the population is a very large minority indeed and must not be forsaken by policy makers."

Christine Conder of Wray Community Communications (self funded Charity promoting the benefits of ICT to a rural community) said: “Our best efforts are being undermined because the majority of the people around here can't get access to a decent broadband connection. We now represent and help well over 50 SMEs and over 500 homes and families who are struggling with dial up within a 12 mile radius of a city. Many are farmers and SMEs who need it for their business, and children who are getting detention because they can't download/upload homework. We fully support The Final Third First campaign.”

Glenn Peacey of Hampshire County Council said:
"Rural broadband is a key part of ensuring the long term economic and social viability of rural communities. Access to the internet enables rural communities to compete on an equal footing with urban centres, enabling smarter/flexible working from home which reduces the tendency towards dormitory villages, increases spending in local shops and pubs and reduces CO2 emissions and road congestion. High speed broadband also has a significant impact on social sustainability, not only does it enable residents to access leisure and media services which they would otherwise be excluded from or have to travel to consume, broadband also facilitates access to online education and learning resources which are so vital to today's school and university students."

Neil Blake for Ewelme Parish Council, Oxon said:
“Public sector websites now take good access for granted. Those responsible should revert to dial-up for a month and watch their children flounder for their course-work, their businesses stagger, and their VAT, tax, social services and DVLA transactions revert to Royal Mail. That is the issue not 50 miles from Westminster. E-government is a good policy but its deployment is socially flawed.”

If you wish to join the Final Third First campaign please contact Charles Trotman: charles.trotman (at) cla.org.uk

Anyway to the comments from some of the Bread Street residents:

- ran your broadband choices test on bt .... download .56mbps, upload .34 mbps

- I use Talk Talk because for £20 or so I get unlimited broadband wireless and free calls in the UK and the EU up to 70 minutes per call, so free calls to land lines. I am OK with the service at times it is slow but I put it down to the equipment, if they can beef it up all the better, but I certainly have not found a better value for money service.

- I use a "dongle" supplied by vodafone... Yes its equally as rubbish - I think it can fall to .3 on occasion but when it is behaving well it climbs to about 1.2.

- We are on TalkTalk and my speed test currently comes in at 1.25Mbps. Probably par for the course this far from the exchange I should think.

- My best rate is 366 kbps upload and 957 kbps download.

- Rubbish service! Anything you can do to improve it would be good. I am happy to sigh a petition or write a letter - just let me know.


Lloyd F said...

Dear Philip and Stroud District residents.

The Rural Broadband Partnership has been established to help communities such as yours. We have piloted the project in Essex with considerable success.

I would be pleased for you to use this portal and happy to help in any way we can.

Kind regards,
Lloyd Felton
Rural Broadband Partnership

Philip Booth said...

Thanks for comment and offer - will be in touch after a response from District Council. Please also can residents email me with any thoughts....

Ben said...

Hi Philip

You might be interested to know that 'Superfast' broadband has come to Stroud. OpenReach have already begun accepting orders for those cabinets which have already been installed and commissioned. The work is due to be completed for most cabinets by the end of June 2012. See the link for more details: http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk

It may be worth checking your line using the BT checker to see if you or the local Stroud residents can get this service. Link: http://www.dslchecker.bt.com/adsl/adslchecker.welcome

Hope this is some more promising news for those suffering with slow speeds!

Philip Booth said...

This looks like good news - I'll blog on this again - thanks v much.