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South Gloucestershire UK “village of the future” Suffers from Slow Broadband

Friday, Jan 31st, 2014 (9:09 am) - Score 1,933

Residents of Aurora Springs, a new homes development in South Gloucestershire (England) that forms part of the wider Cheswick “Urban Village Concept” near Bristol, have complained to BT and the city council because their “village of the future” suffers from slow broadband access and some even have no access to a phone service.

Most right minded people might think that any modern development of new homes, such as the 250 properties on the Aurora Springs patch of Cheswick Village that are being built by Redrow, would as a basic rule also build in access to a modern superfast broadband infrastructure (it’s always cheapest to do this before the properties actually go up).

Unfortunately, much as the boss of Fluidata recently highlighted (here), that’s not always the case. Some developers focus on building the homes without ensuring that the telecoms side of things will be able to cope with modern demand, which appears to be what’s happened at Aurora Springs; including some of the surrounding developments inside Cheswick Village.

The buildings on Aurora Springs comprise a mixture of 2, 3 and 4 bedroom homes and some 4 or 5 bedroom homes in neighbouring Wallscourt Park. The area is so big that Redrow claims it will eventually host its own village centre, school, pub, restaurant, surgery, pharmacy and care home.

But many of those whom brought into the “village of the future” advertising have been left without working landlines or only slower Internet connectivity and they don’t appear to be part of BT’s on-going rollout of superfast broadband.

Sejal Hampson, Campaign leader and Local Resident, said (Bristol Post):

I am heartened by the support local residents have been shown by our councillors and MPs, but I think this situation can be and should be avoided in the future by more forward planning and a planning review process which is more regularly reviewed from the start of a planning application to when the first shovel hits the ground to start the build.

In this day and age residents should not have been left without adequate action by Openreach to ensure each household had a landline facility and the broadband situation demonstrates how quickly the country is evolving in terms of broadband appetite and demand. It’s ludicrous that as a new estate which is a captive audience to want to use the latest technology and speeds that we have been left with inconsistent broadband service and poor speeds.”

ISPreview.co.uk notes that the area appears to be connected via the local Filton telephone exchange, which is well stocked with support for plenty of unbundled broadband ISPs and BT’s latest up to 80Mbps FTTC technology. But clearly the latter doesn’t currently extend into some or all of the new development.

But there is hope of an improvement on the horizon, with both BT and the city council acknowledging the problem. A meeting has now been set for next Saturday where local residents, MPs, BT and Redrow will discuss the situation with a view to hopefully reaching some kind of solution.

The situation also highlights how difficult it is to know whether or not a new development has already been enabled for FTTC or faster fibre optic (FTTP/H) technology. New developments often don’t show up in the usual checkers and even when they do then the exchange based coverage data often isn’t relevant to FTTC, where at a local level it’s your street cabinet that matters.

People might be quick to blame BT on this one, and indeed they do share some of the responsibility via the quality of local infrastructure, but on a big site like this it’s the property developer who must also take ultimate responsibility for ensuring that there’s a modern connectivity solution in place for when people move in. The Government should perhaps also be doing more to encourage this.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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