Drive is on for more superfast coverage
THE leader of the council met with bosses at BT to discuss an action plan for bringing faster broadband speeds to Swindon.
Councillor David Renard had a meeting with the regional director of BT to discuss ways of expanding broadband coverage across the borough.
He said the talks were still in the early stages but that good progress had been made.
And he welcomed the telecoms giant’s decision to roll out its high speed fibre-optic service in Toothill during the final phase of its two-year scheme which has benefited 16 million UK homes and businesses.
“We are delighted they are including Toothill in the commercial roll out,” said Coun Renard, who represents the Haydon Wick ward.
“This will be a large investment and is something that is to be welcomed. But we’re obviously concerned that this is one of the last commercial expansions so I was discussing ways to get more investment from BT to see if we can extend the coverage to rural areas in Swindon.”
In 2011 the government pledged that 90 per cent of the UK would have superfast internet by 2015, with contracts worth £230 million being offered to telecoms firms to take on the task of connect the areas.
“We might be able to attract funding from part of the governments’ projects,” said Coun Renard.
The next step is for the council to collect data to prove there is demand for the service.
The Adver recently reported how a large part of the Priory Vale has limited internet service, with some properties still receiving a dial-up connection. Residents in this area have launched a petition to demonstrate the local need and demand.
Many residents can only download at a speed of two megabytes per second – this compares to speeds of up to 80mb which people on the fibre optics are receiving.
Old Town and the town centre already have fibre optic broadband.
“We agreed on a number of actions to be taken following the meeting,” said Coun Renard.
“We are going to provide a more detailed summary of the areas that are in need of more coverage.”
BT has been working in partnership with a range of local authorities to expand its super fast broadband to rural villages. Swindon’s neighbouring county Somerset and Devon in June struck a £94 million deal with the telecoms giant to roll out the service in its area.
Coun Renard added another meeting would take place in the next two to three months.
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