Don’t have access to superfast broadband?

Why not lay your own network?

17:27 Tuesday 09 August 2016

When one remote Yorkshire village was told it couldn t have superfast broadband, residents decided to take matters into their own hands. Adam Sherwin reports. If you re stuck in the kind of broadband black spot where downloading a film is a weeklong operation then perhaps it s time to start digging.

It s bloody hard work doing it yourself but now we ve got world-beating broadband, says Simon Peach, leader of a scheme which has delivered unprecedented connectivity to a rural parish in North Yorkshire that was abandoned by telecom giants and policy makers. In Clapham-cum-Newby volunteers laid ducts across windswept hills and fields and now it enjoys a level of high-speed fibre broadband that isolated communities from the Shetlands to Somerset only dream of.

Ofcom s 2016 Communications report suggests Britain remains on course to achieve the Government s ambition of universal superfast broadband. The report said the numbers of superfast broadband connections (those providing actual speeds of at least 30 megabits per second, or Mbps, according to the EU s definition) rose by two million (28.7 per cent) to 9.2 million during the year, equivalent to 37.1 per cent of all connections. However, ministers admit that plans to deliver superfast broadband will halt at 95 per cent of the UK by the end of the year, rising to 97 per cent by 2019, because it is considered too expensive to reach the final 500,000 homes in largely rural communities. As a consequence, people operating businesses from home, denied a basic, reliable connectivity, are forced to rent expensive space in urban centres or give up.

Around one million premises, in areas including East Yorkshire, Devon, Cumbria and the Cotswolds, will have to settle for a woefully inadequate maximum speed of 10Mbps. A government consultation document argued it was unlikely that most residents of remote areas would want speeds of 24Mbps, the Government s superfast definition, even if that option is made available to them . There have been delays in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) unit, which has handed out 1.7bn of subsidies to BT to help make rural superfast broadband economically viable. The watchdog attributed the sluggish connections to long line lengths and old copper wiring. Around four million homes across the UK have received superfast internet connections from BT since the BDUK subsidy scheme began in 2010.

The telecoms giant says it is migrating from copper to fibre solutions and will connect 12 million homes and business to ultrafast broadband security © with speeds over 100Mbps by 2020. Andrew Ferguson, of Think Broadband, the independent advisory service, said: We are expecting the UK to hit a 95 per cent superfast coverage target by the end of 2017. This looks achievable based on the current rates of delivery, but this will still leave some not-spots where speeds are less than ideal.

To those who have not been helped yet a rapid rollout is no use to them and it is the uncertainty over future rollout plans that creates lots of anger. That frustration is now being turned into positive action in areas like Clapham-cum-Newby. Some of the most rural areas have taken the task into their own hands building their own fibre networks, Mr Ferguson said.

We are also seeing an increasing number of communities partfunding their own upgrades via Openreach who have a community engagement programme.

A BT spokesman said: We are working directly with hundreds of communities across the UK to find co-funded or self-dig models that bring fibre from a choice of providers (rather than a local monopoly) to sparsely populated areas.

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