B&NES misses out on first tranche of superfast broadband

Rural communities within Bath and North East Somerset have missed out on being among the first tranche of areas set to benefit from the Council’s high-speed broadband programme.

The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, of which B&NES Council is part, aims to deliver broadband internet speeds of up to 24mbps to 90% of households by 2016.

It was announced this week which parts of the region are to be among the first to benefit from these superfast broadband speeds. However, none of the places in line for the upgrade this year are within Bath and North East Somerset, leading to concerns that the area is receiving a raw deal from the project.

Conservative councillors have described the news as ‘deeply disappointing’, and have criticised Liberal Democrat-run B&NES Council for failing to publish a timetable showing which parts of the authority are set to benefit and when.

Alongside its announcement of which communities are to be the first to benefit from faster internet connections, the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme has also published a so-called ‘where and when’ interactive map. However, this map has been lambasted as ‘next to useless’, after most parts of the map in North East Somerset simply state the ‘exchange upgrade is being evaluated’ and asks residents to ‘keep checking for further details’.

B&NES Conservative Group Leader Cllr Tim Warren has called on the Council to release the data it has on which parts of the area are to set to benefit and when.

Cllr Warren said:

“It’s clearly very disappointing that the Council hasn’t managed to ensure that communities within Bath and North East Somerset are amongst the first to benefit from improved broadband speeds.

“But what’s even more frustrating is the fact that neither BT nor the Council have yet agreed to publish the detailed roll-out timetable that would show which parts of the area are to be upgraded and when.

“The Connecting Devon and Somerset programme will eventually deliver broadband speeds of up to 24mbps to 90% of households. But we still don’t know which places will be in the 10% that won’t benefit. The interactive map which has been published is next to useless in this regard.

“Residents and businesses have a right to know this information, and Conservatives are pressing the Council to release it immediately, as the Government has said it should.”

The map published by Connecting Devon and Somerset can be viewed at: http://www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk/where-and-when/