Anslow no longer a ‘broadband blackspot’ as faster internet is introduced

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Internet users living in an East Staffordshire village have been given a reason to celebrate as they welcome new superfast broadband. Andrew Griffiths, MP for Burton and Uttoxeter, has revealed that Anslow residents will now have improved broadband speeds thanks to a new BT cabinet. The cabinet is located at the junction of Lount Lane and Longhedge Lane and is now live, and another cabinet serving most of Main Street and Bushton Lane is due to go live any day.

Mr Griffiths said: “After a long campaign, I have good news for broadband users in Anslow. Superfast broadband is now available to the village. These cabinets will help to improve broadband speeds for the village.

“After being contacted by Philip White and a number of residents who were still not able to access fast broadband, I met with BT before Christmas to push for these improvements. At last, Anslow residents will have decent broadband speeds. “Anslow has been a broadband blackspot for too long, so it is brilliant news that most of the village will now have access to faster speeds.

“Good quality internet service has become essential to our daily lives, both at work and at home, and I want to make sure that all residents and businesses in Anslow and across the whole of Burton and Uttoxeter are able to receive the broadband speeds that they need.

“I know how frustrating it can be when the speed just isn’t there and I speak to BT on behalf of residents on a regular basis. If you are having difficulties with broadband you should contact my office so I can make BT aware of where the issues are. I will be continuing to push them to make sure that we can all receive the best service possible.

“Thank you to Philip White for his help and assistance with this campaign.”
Mr Griffiths has long been an advocate for improved broadband in East Staffordshire and said: “We have to make sure that we have competitive infrastructure and this includes our broadband connections. A small company based in a rural area like Anslow will be disadvantaged and not able to increase their business if they don’t have a fast internet connection that allows them to communicate easily with their customers and suppliers and anyone else who might be interested in their product.

“Local companies and homes should not be disadvantaged. Broadband infrastructure must be competitive and must provide a service to everyone.” He added that BT is undertaking further work in the Anslow Gate area later this year which should extend these improvements to more homes and businesses in the village.

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City council tenants are in line for cut-price home broadband deals

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Thousands of cash-strapped council tenants are set to be offered cut-price home broadband – to try to get more of them online. Around 15,000 households in Stoke-on-Trent do not have an internet connection and are potentially missing out on cheaper deals for goods and services on the web.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council2 estimates this ‘digital divide’ is costing the poorest families in the Potteries up to ?21 million each year. Now the authority is looking to secure low-cost home internet deals for its 19,000 tenants, as well as other people on low incomes.

It comes as the council is still looking at providing wi-fi hotspots in the city centre and public buildings to further improve residents’ connectivity. These measures are included in the council’s new digital inclusion strategy which seeks to support those who have been ‘left behind by the pace and scale of digital transformation’.

Read more: Cocktail bar and eatery ready to open after ?160,000 overhaul3

Deputy council leader Abi Brown said: “So many things happen online these days so it’s a big advantage to be online.

“If you have access to the internet you can find better deals for financial services, or for your shopping. And with Universal Credit, claimants need to apply on the internet.

“One of the four main reasons why people aren’t online is the cost – either they can’t afford home broadband or they can’t afford the hardware. So that is what we are trying to address.

“I don’t think Stoke-on-Trent is the worst place for internet connectivity but there are a lot of people who are living on less than ?16,000 a year, which is the minimum needed to be able to access basic services such as the internet.”

Read more: ‘Bubbly’ mum-of-three suffered fatal asthma attack in sleep4

Nationally, up to 63 per cent of social housing tenants do not have access to the internet, mainly due to a lack of home broadband or computer equipment. According to the council’s strategy, not being able to afford broadband is one of four main barriers to digital inclusion, with the others being a lack of basic digital skills; physical or learning disabilities; and a lack of awareness of the potential financial and social benefits of getting online.

A home broadband internet connection typically costs ?20 to ?30 a month, plus set-up costs. Other actions in the strategy include:

  • Provision of basic ICT courses to 4,500 people a year;
  • Training library staff to help people fill out online Universal Credit application forms;
  • Exploring options for providing free internet access in children’s centres;
  • Offering family learning sessions in schools to train 800 parents a year in basic ICT skills.

Read more: Mum-of-5 fined for putting rubbish out on wrong side of the road5

Tenants board member Jim Gibson, who is also chairman of Chell Heath Residents’ Association, said: “I agree with the principle of giving more people the chance to be able to access the internet in their own homes. But I think we need to see more details. How much will it cost and how long will it go on for? There are lots of council tenants who don’t have the internet, but there are lots of private tenants who don’t either.

I wouldn’t want this to turn into an ‘us and them’ situation.”

Andy Day, co-ordinator of North Staffordshire Pensioners’ Convention, said: “We are in favour of improving people’s access to services and finance. But I think more needs to be done to ensure people who do not want to use the internet are not left behind. There are lots of people who prefer speaking to someone on the phone, as that is what they’ve always done. It’s difficult to get people to change when they’re in their 70s or 80s. This isn’t just something the council should do – I think other organisations and companies can help as well.”

A lack of access to the internet was one of the aspects of poverty explored by Stoke-on-Trent’s Hardship Commission last year. Commission member Danny Flynn, chief executive of North Staffordshire YMCA, said: “It’s good that the council is looking to get more people online. But it’s also important that the council offers training to help people maximise the benefits of having the internet.

Otherwise you could just have people staring at a screen.”

Read more: Christmas is cancelled in Tunstall6


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Stafford company’s broadband outperforms others

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SUPERFAST broadband from Stafford-based Keycom has outperformed all suppliers in an independent speed test. The postcode, which includes the Barbican in London, is the best in the UK for broadband speeds despite being in an area known for its poor coverage. Communications and broadband experts Keycom, based at Staffordshire Technology Park, and Vision Fibre Media have worked in partnership to supply state of the art fibre optic broadband to the Barbican estate.

Speed tests have been carried out for specialist magazine Think Broadband on postcodes across the UK.

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At a mean speed of 112 Mbps, the EC2Y postcode had over twice the average speed of the next best postcode area.


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