Monday, 27 June 2016 12:51

Network fights for better broadband

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Network fights for better broadband

RENEWED effort is required to ensure that the final 5% of premises have adequate broadband connections, says the Rural Services Network.

The government's proposed "right to request" superfast broadband connections was disappointing, said the network in response to an Ofcom consultation.

Rural homes and businesses were being treated differently to the 95% of premises already connected, the network warned.

"Government intervention through the Superfast Broadband Programme has enabled networks to extend into rural areas where there has been a market failure," said the network.

"This is benefitting many rural households and businesses – albeit often in the easier-to-reach rural areas," it added.

The government has proposed a Universal Service Obligation that would see all premises given a legal right to receive a minimum broadband speed of 10Mbps.

But the network said: "Renewed effort is now required to reach the final 5% of premises, most of whom are in rural locations and who still constitute around a quarter of all rural premises."

It had become clear that the proposal was, in fact, simply a "right to request" access to a broadband network rather than universal provision of access to such networks.

"This is very disappointing and means that households and businesses in the final 5% are being treated quite differently from those in the 95%."

The network said premises which couldn't achieve an acceptable broadband connection must not be financially penalised simply because of their location.

"Some form of uniform pricing structure is therefore required for USO provision," it said. "This would be in line with other USOs, such as that for postage."

The network said it strongly supported the notion that the cost of providing a USO connection to consumers should not be disproportionate.

Proposals for the USO would lead to unreasonable connection costs for some rural consumers, especially in the most remote or sparsely populated areas.

By definition it was likely to be relatively costly to provide broadband to the remaining 5% of yet-to-be connected areas, said the network.

"Setting a £3,400 (or similar) connection cost threshold will impose a cost penalty on many rural consumers, which in certain cases could be very high.

"The USO could be especially unfair to the farming community.

"We do not think it is either fair or reasonable to make consumers responsible for all of the costs above such a threshold.

"This will result in some deciding to forego a broadband connection and will particularly hit low income rural households or financially marginal rural businesses."

The network added: We conclude that the proposed threshold is both fundamentally unfair to the final 5% of consumers and is likely to be unworkable in the real world."

The full consultation response is available here.

People in this conversation

  • Guest (Tim)

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    Interestingly, a lot of local businesses and residents in rural areas of Nottinghamshire didn't realise they could upgrade to a fibre to the cabinet solution. I would urge all SMEs (and residents) to check first with either their existing ISP or their local authority. As everyone knows there is a National Programme to upgrade the pipes to extend the reach of fibre broadband across the UK. By 2018 Nottinghamshire will have access to 98% coverage which is great news for all. Thanks.

  • Guest (Alex Schuilenburg)

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    This is scandalous. Rather than improve services to rural areas, BT have been cherry picking with government funding, upgrading urban cabinets for FTTC where 10Mbps speeds are already available without "Superfast", rather than in rural areas where speeds are as low as 0.2Mbps (if you can get broadband). The result in urban areas is take-up is poor to nothing with areas like West Wickham in South Cambs continuing to suffer with no to poor broadband. BT should be paid on take-up, not availability.

    from Cambridgeshire, UK
  • Guest (Lynn)

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    I live in a small rural village in East Yorkshire where they have been rolling out super fast broadband to some of the larger villages over the last two years.
    We find ourselves in the position of being between two villages that have superfast broadband but keep being told it is coming to us " next year ". The irony is that there is a business situated on the village boundary that has got the superfast broadband but not us. We are lucky if we get 3mbps.

  • Guest (joe jefferson)

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    in the village of ugthorpe we are lucky to get 1 mbps 1 mile away they can get up to 15 mbps

    from The Green, Ugthorpe, Whitby YO21 2BH, UK

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