Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Rural broadband – it’s not rocket science

As I walk through my small country village, I see new green cabinets installed by the roadside, and as I drive to and from my nearest town there are road works where men are laying cables. Yes fibre broadband is coming to HU12, and not before time.
As I have written before, living within a stone’s throw of the exchange, I can get 7.5Mbps download during the day, but after 4:00pm when the local children log onto Minecraft etc. I am lucky to get 2.0Mbps, and my Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions appear to be wasted investments.
However, I have spoken to the men in hi-viz jackets and within a month I should have the ‘superfast broadband’ that BT OpenReach have been hinting at or the last two years.
But I am in the lucky 95% of the country that will have fibre broadband in the near future, some of my not too distant neighbours, are still struggling to get 2Mps, with no planned rollout to them. For my farmer colleagues this is very frustrating and potentially financially crippling, as the Department for the English Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), has made all claims for ‘single farm payment’ (a subsidy from the EU Common agricultural policy) to be on-line only.
This again shows both a lack of joined-up thinking across government departments and decision makers taking comfort in statistics rather than detail
The 95% coverage is the percentage of the population across England that will have access to fibre broadband comes from the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) which is feeling very satisfied, and is now investing in even faster speeds for urban areas . But in contrast the in the nearby, predominantly rural, constituency of Thirsk and Malton in Yorkshire, only 82% of the population are scheduled to get fibre broadband, and the majority of the remaining 18% will be the farming community.
 Photograph: Christopher Thomond
Whilst , it is not practical, or cost effective to run fibre to every cottage and farmhouse in England, there are other approaches to providing broadband,  which it would be good for the DCMS (potentially in conjunction with DEFRA) to invest. Examples include my local ‘radio in the Paull church tower’ or the mesh network in Robin Hoods Bay.
Before we start to roll out 100Mbps to urban households, it would be good to have 100% of premises  on at least 2Mbps.

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