Rural Broadband

Faster Broadband for Elmore

 Sadly, progress on the new faster broadband link has neither met the BT promises nor the Government’s pledge to provide a minimum of 2Mbps for every household by the end of 2015.

The BT promise to connect Elmore to the Hardwicke Exchange to enable faster broadband by the end of September 2015 slipped to the end of October and then 30 November but that deadline also passed without any action.

In early January the Parish Council received an invitation to attend an event at The Pilot from GCC and Fastershire to celebrate the connection of “Faster Broadband to Elmore, Longney and Epney” via the newly installed microwave link.

This event was scheduled for 8th January and was to be a photo shoot and press conference attended by the good and great of Gloucestershire, including our local MP, Neil Carmichael.  However, at this event it transpired that only households in Longney were to be recipients of faster broadband via the newly installed microwave link. Indeed, several household had, by that date, already receive connections in excess of 30 Mbps.

Apparently, BT, Openreach and Fastershire had made a decision some months ago to exclude all households in Elmore from being connected to this new fast broadband link. However, this decision was never conveyed to your Parish Council. Quite the contrary, we were regularly receiving progress reports from both Fastershire and BT about the project and on 14th December we received a personal e-mail from Paul Coles, Director of BT’s South West Region, informing us that the new Cabinet on our side of the canal was now live and households could place orders for an upgrade.

When Paul Coles was quizzed at the ‘celebration event’ at The Pilot on 8th January as to what BT were now going to do about the long-promised connection, one of the solutions he suggested was that the village club together to purchase the new fibre link which would cost anything up to £56,000.!!

The Government’s ‘official alternative’ for households unable to receive 2Mbps is to apply for a grant of £400 to enable a satellite connection to be made. Of course, this is a one-off payment and households would then be liable for all ongoing costs associated with the contract and download limitations.   Even if all 67 households at the top of Elmore (all households at Elmore Back receive their phone and broadband links via the Minsterworth Exchange), clubbed together to pool their £400 grants we would only be able to raise £26,800!

We are aware that several households in the village have already explored alternative broadband connections including satellite, Cotswold Wireless and mobile telephone dongles. The success of such systems varies with both the In-Service Provider (ISP) (e.g. Sky & Talk Talk) as well as  the location.

This is all really depressing news but we haven’t given up the fight. We have already sent an e-mail to all those on the Village database with a copy of the letter sent to BT, our MP, GCC and others concerning our dissatisfaction with the current situation.

If you didn’t receive a copy and would like to do so then please contact John Field (fernhay@btinternet.com).

Whatever the outcome of our letter, it is feared that a solution will be some time coming, if ever!

John Field, Chairman Elmore Parish Council