Council pressed to publish rural broadband information

Bath and North East Somerset Council is coming under pressure to publish information on which parts of the authority are set to benefit from the roll-out of superfast broadband rural areas.

Conservative councillors are calling for the information to be made public after the Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced that an agreement has been reached with BT to allow the roll-out timetables to be published. Ms Miller has also written to local councils, who co-own the information, urging them to allow the data to be released.

Conservative councillors have said it is crucial for the information to be published so that residents are able to see which areas are set to benefit from improved internet connections and when.

The roll-out of superfast broadband in Bath and North East Somerset is being delivered by BT as part of the Government-backed Connecting Devon and Somerset programme, and will eventually result in around 90% of households in rural areas being able to access broadband internet speeds of up to 24mbps.

However, a group of residents have set up their own community-interest company which wants to provide even faster internet connections to parts of the area. Wansdyke Telecom aims to provide fibre-optic broadband with speeds of at least 100mbps, but has been pressing the Council to publish the information it has on which areas are set to receive faster broadband through the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme.

B&NES Conservative Group Leader Councillor Tim Warren, has written to the Liberal Democrat-run Council urging that the information be published immediately.

Cllr Warren said:

“It’s absolutely essential that this information is released so that members of the public can see for themselves which areas are set to benefit from improved broadband connections and when.

“The Government has now urged all councils to publish the data they have, and we are pressing B&NES to do so immediately. It’s just a shame that the Council hasn’t made this information available before.

“Not only do residents need to know whether and when their home will benefit from improved internet speeds, but those running community broadband projects also need this information before they can start work.

“It’s high time that residents and businesses in rural areas were able to benefit from the superfast broadband which most cities have enjoyed for several years now. We hope that B&NES acts quickly to agree to this request.”