BOURNEMOUTH has the highest availability of superfast broadband in the country, according to new Ofcom data. Broken down by constituency by the House of Commons Library, Bournemouth East has the superfast broadband availability of 99.3, and Bournemouth West has 98.6 per cent. The national average is 88 per cent.
Poole is also near the top of the pile with 97.5 per cent availability, while Mid Dorset and North Poole (90.9 per cent), Christchurch (90 per cent) and South Dorset (88.9 per cent) beat the average. The largely rural North Dorset (77.4 per cent), West Dorset (78.2 per cent) and New Forest West (82.5 per cent) all fall below average. Here, superfast lines describe those capable of receiving speeds of 30 Mb/s or greater.
However, only half of internet users are taking advantage of the high speeds available. In both Bournemouth constituencies and Poole only around 50 per cent of connections were superfast, the data showed. Although above average in superfast availability, both Mid Dorset and North Poole and Christchurch were below the average of 40 per cent in actual superfast connections.
Bournemouth West MP said the news reflected the strength of the town’s growing digital sector.
“This is good news, although more people should be taking it up,” he said.
“It is incumbent on service providers to make sure more people are able to take it up and aware they can.
“It reflects the reputation of Bournemouth being an emerging innovative tech hub in the UK.”
He said this reputation was why the previous Chancellor, George Osborne, had chosen Bournemouth as a trial location for the roll-out of future wireless technology 5G.
“This complements everything that is going on in our universities and the tech economy, and the more people who can access it the better it will be,” he said.
Openreach wants to recruit engineering trainees in Dorset to help extend its fibre broadband network
AROUND 30 jobs will be created in Dorset as part of plans to boost an engineering workforce in the region and keep the county connected. BT’s Openreach division, which develops and maintains the UK’s main telecoms network, wants to recruit 170 trainees in the South West including about 30 in Dorset, to help extend its fibre broadband network. It is part of a UK-wide initiative to hire 1,500 trainee engineers over the next eight months. Openreach expects to recruit about 30 people in Dorset in locations such as Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester1 and Blandford.
Potential candidates will be able to discover exactly what life as a field engineer involves, with the help of virtual reality (VR). The company is trialling a VR experience which enables interested applicants to don a headset and experience climbing a telephone pole or exploring the local exchange building in immersive 3D, from the perspective of a real engineer. The 360 degree videos are available to watch on Openreach’s YouTube channel. Videos include an engineer’s eye view from the top of a telephone pole, a virtual tour of a telephone exchange and a look inside a green roadside cabinet.
Nationally, it is expected that an initial intake of 119 recruits will join the company in April, followed by around 60 new recruits joining each week through to mid-October. New trainees will embark on a tailored 12 month accredited learning programme – including on-the-job experience and culminating with the attainment of an externally recognised qualification for IT, Software and Telecoms professionals. Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Karen Bradley, said: “The Government’s ?1.7 billion rollout programme has helped take superfast broadband to more than nine out of ten homes and businesses in the UK and we are reaching thousands more every week.
Openreach engineers have played a pivotal role in helping deliver this, and these 1,500 new recruits will be a fantastic addition to our thriving digital economy.”
Openreach chief executive, Clive Selley, said: “Our customers need us to install new lines and repair our network faster than ever, and by increasing the number of people working on proactive network maintenance, we can fix more issues before people even notice them.
“We are also continuing to roll out superfast broadband services at scale and making big investments in our network to make ultrafast broadband available to up to 12 million homes by the end of 2020.”
WHILE parts of Dorset are bounding ahead on the super-fast broadband highway – a small area of Prince Charles’ Poundbury estate is languishing on the slip road of modern modem speeds.
Around a hundred homes in a section of the South West Quadrant have found that the multi-million pound Superfast Dorset initiative simply isn’t for them. And no matter who they speak to in an attempt to improve their broadband speeds nothing has happened for the past two years. Local councillors have been involved, residents associations asked to help, the MP written to, but one resident says all they get is “passing the buck”. Superfast Dorset recently boasted that it had brought high-speed fibre broadband to more than 180 business parks across the county.
“The multi million pound Superfast Dorset partnership between Dorset councils, the Government and BT is continuing to make strong progress having already made superfast broadband available to 94 per cent of homes and businesses in the county,” said their news release.
But when View from Dorchester asked about the homes with only basic broadband in the affected area of Poundbury it said the improvements should have been commissioned by the developers. Our investigation suggests that one vital telecoms’ cabinet for the area, has been overlooked and that others are full to capacity. In the words of OpenReach: “The Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) technology – capable of speeds up to 80Mbps – can boost the competitiveness of local businesses…while opening up a host of new learning, entertainment and development opportunities for households.”
But not so for the Poundbury homes affected.
Said a Superfast Dorset statement: “We would expect the large development of Poundbury to have superfast broadband planned between the developer and the infrastructure supplier (eg Openreach) from the outset. This appears to be the case with the vast majority of premises in Poundbury.
“Properties at Poundbury without the ability to have a superfast connection are a matter between the developer and Openreach because there should be a clear commercial case to build without the need for public subsidy.
“We organised a meeting between the Duchy and BT to try to resolve the problem. Openreach has agreed to provide an initial assessment of the work needed to resolve the issue and associated costs. Also, the meeting confirmed that other cabinets are at capacity so very few people can take up a superfast service in Poundbury at the moment.”
Local resident Tim Topper, who has been battling to improve speeds in the area, says action should have been taken earlier but says it was hardly the developer’s fault that nothing happened: “The SW Quadrant development was 95% complete by the time the first fibre service arrived on Poundbury. Cabinet 45 was enabled for fibre in 2013, I believe, it may have even been early 2014. By that time, the majority of SW Quadrant was occupied so quite how developers could be expected to plan for a service that didn’t exist until after they had completed the overwhelming majority of builds is something the Superfast Dorset might consider explaining.”
Mr Topper says that BT have said at meetings, and e-mails, that upgrading cabinet 103 which serves the South West Quadrant area was not commercially viable, yet 29 properties close by were helped, despite apparently being in the same situation.
Local councillor Richard Biggs has been trying to resolve the situation for the residents, so far without success: “I have been quite shocked to hear that the South West Quadrant does not have fibre broadband as yet or unlikely to anytime soon.
“Can this be true? One minute being in the national news one week with the major royal visit but parts of this new and acclaimed major urban development not having access to superfast broadband?” Residents have provided Mr Biggs with evidence that fibre was installed to the north of Bridport Road in 2013-14 but the South West Quadrant homes, just a street away, were not included at the time.
“It seems that this SW quadrant of Poundbury is being conveniently forgotten by Openreach and every other authority. Why (is this) when fibre is so widely available elsewhere on Poundbury?” said one resident from Inglescombe Street in a letter pleading for help in the autumn.