Friday, 24 September 2021

Village given hope of faster internet access... at a price

RESIDENTS of Crazies Hill who want a faster broadband connection may be forced to help fund

RESIDENTS of Crazies Hill who want a faster broadband connection may be forced to help fund any rollout scheme.

Virgin Media is the latest provider to offer superfast broadband to the area with its Cable My Street scheme, involving fibre optic cables with speeds of up to 200 megabits per second.

But parish councillors have warned that Crazies Hill may be too sparsely populated to be covered by the scheme and any solution would require thousands of pounds of funding from residents.

Ten broadband boxes in Wargrave have been upgraded to fibre optic under BT’s Superfast Berkshire programme but Crazies Hill, where speeds are as slow as 2Mbps, was not included.

A survey carried out by Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green Residents’ Association last year showed that 93 per cent of residents felt broadband in the village was “not good enough”.

Virgin’s scheme could be an alternative but the company is said to want to roll out the programme in more densley-populated areas.

Councillor Phil Davies told meeting of Wargrave Parish Council on Monday that Virgin had contacted Wokingham borough councillors.

“They are very keen to look at including some of Wargrave in their broadband rollout,” he said. “How much of Wargrave is the question.

“I wouldn’t assume it’s all environs but certainly the denser areas. These do not include Crazies Hill or Cockpole Green, which would probably require community funding. We understand that Virgin would require a commitment to community funding for it to go to Crazies Hill.”

Cllr Davies said that some of the areas that Virgin was likely to be interested in were already covered by the Superfast Berkshire scheme and questioned whether residents would be interested in a new deal.

He said: “BT already runs fibre to some boxes in Wargrave. With that in mind is there a market for people to say they want Virgin? It’s a diminished market because BT is already offering up to 80mbps at the moment.

“It’s the outlying areas that are the issue but Virgin wouldn’t be as interested because the density of homes is quite low.”

Councillor Marion Pope, who lives in East View Road, Wargrave, said she had received a leaflet from Virgin and felt any coverage depended on most or all of the residents of a single street registering their interest.

Clerk Stephen Hedges suggested the scheme should be pursued in order to get the best broadband deal for residents of both Wargrave and Crazies Hill.

He said: “Wargrave stands to benefit from these plans. At the end of the day, we are only bothered with what our residents want, we don’t care who the provider is. Maybe we can play the two companies off each other.

“Residents want a faster connection and anyone who can provide that to the parish should be supported by the council.”

At a public meeting last month, Superfast Berkshire told residents of Crazies Hill that they could have to wait up to two years for superfast broadband or move house.

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