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Many Firms in Somerset UK Still Lack Access to Fibre Broadband

Wednesday, October 9th, 2019 (9:44 am) - Score 514
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A new survey of 135 Somerset-based firms, which was undertaken online by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce in partnership with local rural “full fibre” broadband ISP Truespeed, has claimed that 42% of businesses still don’t have access to “fibre broadband” and half of respondents suffered daily or weekly drop-outs in service.

On top of that the survey found that one third of businesses have to make do with slow copper lines (ADSL) to access the internet and almost 10% said they had no broadband coverage at all, while 5% rely on 4G based mobile data networks and 4% on Satellite-based connectivity services.

As well as those who experienced connection drop-outs, some 55% also said they had experienced problems in accessing cloud-based tools and storage, with 14% saying this happens “very often“. Finally, 48% said they struggle to access online banking services – a growing concern given the government’s Making Tax Digital (MTD) initiative.

Stephen Henagulph, Somerset Chamber of Commerce CEO, said:

“This survey paints a worrying picture of Somerset’s business growth prospects unless there is an urgent uptake in ultrafast broadband network investment. Somerset Chamber will be using the survey results to push hard for more to be done to ensure our businesses can compete on a level digital playing field.”

Jez Allman, Sales Director at Truespeed, said:

“We must act now to avoid a two-speed nation in which largely rural counties such as Somerset are left languishing in the digital slow lane. This will only stymie regional business growth and discourage others from setting up home and starting new businesses outside of recognised broadband hot spots.

Fortunately, privately-funded broadband providers are ploughing investment into Somerset and other rural areas and building future-proof, gigabit-capable fibre networks. A two-pronged approach, in which private providers complement the government’s taxpayer-funded rural broadband initiatives, is the best way to secure Somerset’s and the entire country’s digital future.”

As usual we have to caveat a few aspects of this survey. Firstly, the survey doesn’t clarify what it means by “fibre broadband” and whether the differences were made clear to respondents before they answered, which is an important consideration because today a lot of people tend to think slower Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2), G.fast and Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) are the same as “full fibre” (FTTP).

At present around 90% of Somerset should be within reach of a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) ISP network and most of that is via fibre-based FTTC, although the press release notes that only a little over 3% can access a full fibre network. All of this makes the 42% result from local firms that “don’t have access” to “fibre broadband” seem rather confusing (do they mean take-up rather than availability or are leased lines playing a role?).

Likewise connection drop-outs aren’t always the fault of the broadband connection itself and can just as often also be attributed to local network problems, which is something that the survey doesn’t clarify. Typically only network admins can usually tell the subtle but important difference between these two sides of the same internet connectivity coin.

Nevertheless it’s absolutely fair to say that Somerset as a county is a long way behind some others in terms of superfast, ultrafast and even full fibre broadband coverage. The local state aid funded Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) project has suffered no end up rollout problems and delays on this front, which certainly hasn’t helped.

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Mark Jackson
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.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar Somerset

    I do not believe the numbers represent the true picture in Somerset. Fake news.

  2. Avatar Fred

    Surely the same issue occurs across the whole of the UK.

  3. Avatar Codger

    @Somerset
    Before asserting this maybe fake news,surely needs to supported by visibility of the underlying data. I believe this survey was conducted by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, surely they should be contacted before making unsupported allegations??

    Are you implying that rural broadband is all hunky dory down in the South West?

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