Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Villagers given fresh hope over superfast broadband

RESIDENTS of Crazies Hill calling for superfast broadband in the village have been boosted by a new government

RESIDENTS of Crazies Hill calling for superfast broadband in the village have been boosted by a new government initiative.

The universal service obligation will give people the legal right to request broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second, regardless of where they live.

It will also place broadband alongside gas, electricity and water as a basic utility.

The move means Crazies Hill could be in line for improved coverage after the village was left out of a countywide programme to install fibre-optic broadband.

Residents are unhappy that the Superfast Berkshire programme included neighbouring Wargrave but failed to continue on to Crazies Hill, despite the poor broadband speeds residents currently experience. 

In April, the Henley Standard reported that the cabinet that serves Crazies Hill will not be updated as part of the programme, meaning residents will be left with broadband speeds of as little as 2Mbps. 

Villagers appealed for help from Maidenhead MP and Home Secretary Theresa May, who arranged a meeting between BT executives and local councils earlier this month.

Mrs May said: “I am delighted that the Government has announced a universal service obligation and, by the end of this parliament, it will be a legal right for people to access broadband connections.

“Broadband access is integral for everybody — we live in a digital landscape which is continually changing and broadband is very important for my constituents, businesses and homeowners looking to access important services.

“It is right that broadband is considered equal to basic utilities and I welcome the Government’s continued commitment to deliver superfast broadband.

“I will continue to assist my constituents in ensuring superfast broadband is rolled out across Berkshire.”

Phil Davies, a member of Crazies Hill Residents’ Association’s committee, warned that the scheme may not be of much use to residents in the short-term with no action likely to be taken in the next five years.

By that time the Superfast Berkshire programme may have been extended to Crazies Hill anyway.

Mr Davies, who also sits on Wargrave Parish Council, said: “The commitment seems to indicate by the end of 2020, which is quite a way off. Hopefully, there is some more detail to come.”

Ninety per cent of homes in Berkshire are due to have access to fibre-optic broadband by the end of the year under the Superfast Berkshire initiative. Broadband cabinets for several streets in Wargrave have already been connected, providing speeds of up to 24Mbps.

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