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North Devon Villages Petition Culture Secretary for Faster Broadband

Friday, November 6th, 2015 (9:58 am) - Score 401

Residents from three small rural villages in North Devon (Filleigh, East Buckland and West Buckland) have joined forces in order to hand a petition to the Government’s Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale MP, in the hopes of using it bring faster broadband services into the area.

At present the related Connecting Devon and Somerset project is already working with BTOpenreach to make “superfast broadband” speeds available to over 90% of local homes and businesses by the end of 2016, although the plans to extend this to 95% or more suffered a delay in June 2015 after contract negotiations with BT collapsed (here).

Efforts to secure a new contract are on-going (potentially with an alternative supplier or consortium of suppliers), but in the meantime many of those in the final 10% have been left with an uncertain wait. Meanwhile all three villages are currently marked as either being “under evaluation” for future coverage or as “out of programme” (no plans at all, yet).

According to local news reports, some 99% of the affected village businesses (there are 98 in the area) and residents have signed the petition, which has now been handed to John Whittingdale.

Peter Heaton-Jones, North Devon MP, said:

[Mr Whittingdale] has undertaken to respond to the issues raised and asked me to pass on that he understood entirely the importance of superfast broadband to rural communities like ours.

Sadly we’re short on time this morning and so haven’t been able to do a more detailed check of the local connectivity, although the reality is that Filleigh, East Buckland and West Buckland probably won’t see any progress until a supplier has been found to help further expand local coverage.

The government are also expected to announce additional support for remote rural areas as part of their forthcoming Autumn Statement later this month, although at least part of that will involve subsidising the use of inferior Satellite connectivity.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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