More than 5,000 homes still have slow or no broadbandBy Lucy Allen
January 03, 2013
More than 5,000 homes and businesses in Wokingham borough have poor or no broadband available, it has emerged.
The bad service, which affects around eight per cent of buildings in the borough, is defined as a speed of less than 2 Megabits per second(MBits/sec).
Despite this, Wokingham is lagging behind in signing up to a project that will provide superfast broadband (defined as more than 24MBits/sec).
Just two people have signed up to be a ‘digital champion’ for the area and only 650 premises have registered an interest in the superfast service.
Registration, which can be done easily – if you can find a speedy computer – is the key to success, as it will be the level of interest demonstrated by local communities that will encourage telecoms firms to invest the money required to create the superfast service.
Broadband providers are already scheduled to roll out superfast broadband to 80 per cent of Berkshire premises before the end of 2015, but that will still leave thousands without it, usually in low population areas.
The new campaign that people are being asked to register for would deliver superfast broadband to at least 90 per cent of premises and standard broadband (2 MBits/sec or faster) to the remaining 10 per cent.
The cost of this upgraded service is estimated to be £5.6 million.
Some of this – £1.43 million – will be paid for by the Government, and another £1.43 million will come from the six Berkshire borough councils.
The remainder of the cash has to come from the private sector.
Wokingham Borough Council’s economic development officer Andy Nicholls said: “Businesses and residents have been demanding better broadband for some time, which is why we are joint funding this project with local authorities across Berkshire and central government.
“The benefits impact positively across the whole of our economy – whether this is through greater scope for home working, which reduces pressure on the transport network and lowers carbon emissions, or better delivery of public services, such as remote education services.”
Currently, the number of registrations varies from area to area, with parishes experiencing the worst broadband signing up most quickly.
There have been 155 registrations in Finchampstead, 127 in Arborfield and 84 in Hurst.
Finchampstead is one of the worst-served areas in the borough, with many homes unable to access decent broadband despite a schedule of work being carried out by BT.
To register your interest or to become a digital champion, visit the website www.superfastberkshire.org.uk.