Liberal Democrat campaigners for better broadband have welcomed the news that more money is available for broadband in our rural areas – but warn that it should be used for the right technology.
South Glos Council has announced that a number of villages are likely to benefit from an extra £1.49m for better broadband. Campaigners are concerned that the money will be wasted on solutions that don’t deliver the speed and reliability people and businesses need. At a recent council meeting, Liberal Democrats challenged the Conservatives running the council to get the technology right.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Claire Young said: “Upgrading the local cabinet to fibre won’t help much if your home is connected to that cabinet by a long length of copper wire. Your broadband will still be slow and unreliable. I have called on the Tories running South Glos council to talk to councils that have already delivered future-proof pure-fibre solutions in conjunction with BT Open Reach. If the Superfast Cornwall project can deploy a pure-fibre solution to over 85,000 premises, why can’t that happen in our rural areas?”
She added, “Local campaigners are frustrated that they can’t get more information about how the money is being used. They want to know that tax payers’ money is being spent on technology that will deliver speed, reliability and value-for-money in the long term, not just stop gap measures.”
Cllr Sue Hope, representing Cotswold Edge added: “Good access to broadband is vital for our rural residents and businesses. It’s not just for buying things online, or watching streaming TV – everything like booking a doctor’s appointment, finding out about community events, and tracking what your Councillors and MPs are up to can be done online. Our businesses need to be able to place their own orders, and be available to consumers, to be competitive. Physical presence used to be everything, but now it’s all about being online. Our modern businesses have to be part of the modern economy, and that means being available online, with a high speed connection. We need a long-term solution, and we need it now. A good internet connection isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s essential.”