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Liberal Democrats call for action to solve Superfast Broadband access problems

December 8, 2014 2:05 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Superfast Braodband fibre boxSurrey County Council's Liberal Democrat opposition is calling for action to be taken to close the gaps in Superfast Broadband coverage across the county.

The actions demanded include reviewing the contracts with the commercial operators providing Superfast Broadband, identifying the gaps in coverage and deveoping solutions.

Cllr Hazel Watson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Surrey County Council said: "Residents across Surrey are saying that they are unable to receive Superfast Broadband at their homes despite fibre enhanced boxes being installed.

"In today's digital age access to Superfast Broadband is an essential service that residents need to use as part of their everyday lives to obtain information and services. However there are communities across Surrey that are unable to receive Superfast Broadband at all or they can only obtain a broadband service at low speeds less than 15Mbps. The communities unable to obtain Superfast Broadband include parts of Waverley, Guildford, Mole Valley, Epsom & Ewell and Tandridge. The problem is affecting some village centres and suburban areas as well as more isolated rural parts of Surrey.

"The County Council set an objective that 99% of Surrey households will receive fibre based broadband by the end of 2014 and that 94% would achieve Superfast Broadband speeds of 15Mbps or more.

"The intervention area funded with £20 million from the County Council was supposed to fill the gaps in coverage but unfortunately gaps still remain in both the commercial roll out area (four-fifths of the county) and the intervention area (one-fifth of the county).

"The problem is that simply providing fibre based boxes gives theoretical 'access' but does not necessarily mean that all households can actually receive a Superfast Broadband service, without further costly infrastructure. For example if a property is 1.8km from a fibre enabled box that is too far to obtain a Superfast Broadband service.

"This issue is too important to sit back and do nothing as the problems will not go away. It is time for action, not words.

"That is why I am calling for the Leader of the Council to act now to review the contracts with the commercial operators providing Superfast broadband to Surrey residents and to identify the emerging gaps in Superfast broadband coverage (such as areas in the commercial roll-out that are further than 1.8km from the fibre-enabled box that covers their area) and to develop solutions to ensure that either the commercial operators provide Superfast broadband to residents living in these areas or that the Surrey Superfast Broadband programme is extended to cover residents living in these areas."