Residents of the hamlet of Dean near Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire were recently let down by a government scheme that aimed to bring super-fast broadband to every home in the area.
The Rural Community Broadband Fund (RCBF) promised to spend a total of £20 million on connecting homes to super-fast fibre broadband, instead it’s due to be wound down in March. Out of the £20 million proposed spend, and the 70,000 homes and businesses that were going to benefit from this scheme, only 5% of the proposed budget has been spent, and only 2500 homes have benefitted.
With rural communities now in rebellion as their hopes of superfast broadband are dashed, anger is directed at David Cameron, who also lives in the Cotswolds, but is sitting comfortably with the superfast broadband that’s leased from a line directed from the Home Office – thanks to BT. Giving him the access that his neighbours have been denied.
Revolt has been targeted at BT, with local councils rarely handing any work over to any other company. This has resulted in numerous projects outlined in the Rural Community Broadband Fund unable to secure funding.
As local broadband schemes come to a halt, rural residents have begun taking their connectivity into their own hands, and using methods such as satellite broadband, as a result of being unable to trust the government to come through with plans to connect whole areas.
Andrew Walwyn, CEO of satellite broadband provider Europasat, told us his views on the matter.
‘Despite the good intentions of many different parties and agencies it seems another innovative RCBF broadband scheme has floundered with very few end users benefiting. As has often been the case with these initiatives, the Hamlet of Dean project seems to have drowned in bureaucracy. Homes and businesses need fast broadband literally now, and if we want these schemes to work its essential that all involved structure the projects simply, and make it feasible for the companies connecting the users to roll them out.’
Andrew added – ‘Whilst clearly it’s important that due process is followed where public funds are involved, it’s also important that the money actually ends up doing the job it was destined for. So often with RCBF schemes by the time all the so-called stakeholders have had their say, the whole project has tied itself in knots and the key objective of the project is buried under paperwork.’