/ Money, Technology

Broadband must be superfast for everyone

Just imagine that every time the Prime Minister wanted to use the internet, he had to go outside Number 10, stand on a chair and hold his phone up to the heavens.

Or run up and down a flight of stairs to turn the router off and on. Or pop round to Number 11 to use their computer. Then wait hours for a document to download.

Naturally, he’d ask his provider for better broadband. The response, if he lived in some parts of the country, would be: it’s too tricky to upgrade you, so we’re not automatically bringing your service into line with the rest of the UK. You can apply for a basic connection, often from a satellite, and you may have to stump up some of the costs of installation.

Why should rural areas put up with this?

Does that sound unfair? It’s reality for hundreds of thousands of people in rural areas. People who told us they really must stand on a chair or sprint downstairs to get a connection.

That’s why when the government announced in 2015 its ambition to put access to broadband on a similar footing to other basic services, such as electricity, there was cause to celebrate. The PM said he wanted to bring fast broadband to everyone by 2020.

That deadline‚Äôs rapidly approaching, so the government must¬†get its skates on. And in recent weeks it‚Äôs become clear that the¬†commitment may not give us all the superfast connection we¬†need. We‚Äôre now told superfast broadband will reach at least 95%¬†of the country by 2017 and the new ‚ÄėUniversal Service Obligation‚Äô¬†will only give you a legal right to a fast connection, not superfast.

Where does that leave those in the final 5%? You can make an application, but how easy will it be to get connected and how much will you pay? And when it’s done, will your broadband be fast enough to cope with a new generation of digital services?

Even now, people in rural areas struggle to run homes, farms and other businesses with painfully slow internet, below 2Mbps.

If you’re in that 5%, we’re determined you’re not forgotten. We want to work with government to bring in its plans as soon as possible. We want getting connected to be cost effective and simple. In the meantime we’ll make sure your views are heard.

Take action

You can sign up to our broadband campaign¬†and here’s how to complain if you are concerned about the speed of your own connection.


I feel I should be very grateful that I routinely get “only” 12Mbps download and 1.0Mbps upload from my ADSL2+ connection. However, FTTC has been available in the village where I live for some time now but it offers me lower speeds than copper. My current provider indicates the following:
Standard Broadband (up to 16Mbps) – between 5.5 and 12.5Mbps
Fibre Optic Broadband (up to 76Mbps) – 6.4 Mbps download, 0.8 Mbps upload
When I investigated the reason for this (helped considerably by my broadband provider), I discovered that, although I am only 193 metres walking distance from a cabinet, the one I would actually use is located immediately outside the telephone exchange some 1,255 metres distant.

It seems to me that at least some of the problems could be resolved if some local re-wiring of cabinets could be carried out. Considerable amounts of taxpayers’ money have been handed over to BT to build a fibre optic network across the country. In some instances, it appears that end users are being deprived of the potential benefits simply by being tied-in to an older generation of installation that worked perfectly well simply for landlines.

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Duncan, first of all, thanks for your response. I completely agree that the country simply cannot, at this time, afford to retire the entire network, desirable though that would be. What I was, perhaps naively, suggesting was for there to be the possibility of the copper telephone line being moved from an existing cabinet to one in closer proximity to the premises requiring a fibre connection. The “sister” FTTC cabinet could then be used for the final copper connection. I have no idea if this would be technically possible but it strikes me that better use could be made of existing copper and fibre cabinets by some ad-hoc rewiring. Just a thought!

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I live two iles outside a major northern town, Accrington, with a green cabinet at the end of our Avenue, roughly 200 yds. Speed? Best is 3.1 Mbs, usually 2.5 down to 1.9! But I only pay £5.00 per month on top of line rental.

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A frequent missive I hear from BT/Openreach is there is not enough capacity at the distribution box- Why when you are supposed to be rolling out superfast broadband to EVERYONE.

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Fast broadband everywhere will boost the economy. Instead of giving money to the banks where it disappears into a black hole, government should be commissioning fibre roll-out up and down the country, SDSL instead of the useless ADSL, and basically investing heavily with all their low-interest borrowing power in this crucial capital asset.

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Kieran Caulfield says:
19 July 2016

Why do the Broadband companies get away with lying to the public and charging for broadband speeds they know will not be achieved? Sickening behaviour ūüôĀ