Broadband tests reveal town gets a mixed dealBy Caroline Cook
November 30, 2010
Internet users in Wokingham are experiencing wildly different download speeds as upgrades begin in some areas of the borough but others remain frustrated with slow services.
A website which allows people to see the download speeds they are getting in comparison to their neighbours shows huge variations around the borough.
Users in Wokingham town centre are able to access speeds of up to 32Mbps, while those in Finchampstead are left with speeds as low as 0.4Mbps.
A list released last week by broadband comparison site top10.com identified the top 20 locations with the slowest broadband in the UK. Although Wokingham was spared from the list some areas around the borough are receiving speeds on a par with the worst average speed of 1.3Mbps.
Rainbow Park in Winnersh registered broadband speeds of 1.5Mbps on the online map while Bruce Road in Woodley came out as 5.3Mbps and Wargrave Road in Twyford at 6.1Mbps.
Last week BT announced that the first phase of its super-fast broadband would be rolled out in the town in the next few weeks but those hit by the slowest speeds in the borough are holding off the celebrations.
Maxine Tingley, who lives in McCarthy Way, Finchampstead, contacted The Wokingham Times in October when slow speeds made it virtually impossible for her to work at home and she says she thinks her service may be getting even slower.
She said: “Nothing has changed with our internet, in fact it feels like its getting slower. I get my work done but if I have something that is crucial I still have to go into work rather than work from home. It’s just not ideal.
“I have got a mobile dongle on order but it has not arrived yet so I am hoping that might improve things but I have been told that the signal might not be very good either.”
The slow speeds have also sparked two campaigns for faster broadband, with Arborfield resident Frank Rawlings following the lead of entrepreneur Rachel McGuinness, who launched a blog and Twitter campaign for Finchampstead in October.
Mr Rawlings, who is retired, has distributed hundreds of leaflets around the village encouraging residents to vote for Arborfield in the BT Race to Infinity, which gives residents the chance to vote for their area as the next place to be given super-fast broadband.
He said: “In Arborfield we have got three main residential areas, Arborfield, Arborfield Cross and Arborfield Garrison, and in between them is lots of open space with shops, little businesses and nurseries. But because they are so scattered around the cable people don’t want to know.
“We are all on copper cables and I’m not too bad because my next door neighbour is practically the exchange so I do reasonably well. But there have been days when I have just given up because I’m waiting for the computer to load a page and it’s taking forever.
“I thought if it’s that bad for me, what must it be like for someone two miles down the road? So I got in touch with the parish clerk who was wonderful and printed all the leaflets for me.”
Mr Rawlings has been distributing the leaflets around village shops, notice boards, and even giving them to mums as they collect children from school, in the hope Arborfield will make the grade.
So far the Arborfield Cross exchange has received 136 votes out of a possible 1,683, while the Eversley exchange and Wokingham area are already pinpointed on the infinity race as being in line for upgrades.
But not everyone in Wokingham is dissatisfied with the service, with some receiving considerable download speeds. According to the online street map Silverdale Road in Earley receives speeds of 32.3Mbps while Toutley Road in Wokingham reaches speeds of 17.5Mbps.
Alan Jasper, of Payley Drive, Wokingham, wrote to The Wokingham Times last week saying not all areas of the borough are broadband blackspots.
He said: “Although high speed coverage is not available in some surrounding villages I feel it is only fair to point out that Wokingham benefits from broadband that is as fast as any available in the country. Most streets in the town are now served by two fibre optic networks.
“I currently take the 20Mbps Virgin Media service and have found it very fast and reliable, achieving over 18Mbps in speed tests.
“I hope that our nearby rural communities get to benefit from fibre networks before too long.”