Friday, 19 August 2022

Superfast broadband in village delayed yet again

THE installation of superfast broadband in Crazies Hill has been delayed again.

The village agreed a deal with provider Gigaclear in July 2016 but the £3.5million project has stalled after the company ran into problems with groundworks.

The work to connect the village was due to resume in April but now the firm says this will not happen until next month, meaning homes will not be connected before spring next year, almost two years later than first planned.

Crazies Hill, where residents currently experience speeds as slow as two megabits per second, has not been covered by BT’s Superfast Berkshire programme.

Wargrave parish councillor Philip Davies, who lives in the village, said Gigaclear had changed contractors and project managers several times and work to install fibre-optic cables to the outskirts of the village appeared to have stopped. He said residents were disappointed at another delay.

He added: “They are concerned at the competence and capability of a company clearly not able to communicate and deliver on commitments it signed. Gigaclear need to start communicating professionally about what their timescale for installation is and provide assurances that they will honour it.”

A Gigaclear spokeswoman said: “As with any large-scale engineering project, we expected to encounter challenges along the way.

“However, the project to connect Crazies Hill to ultrafast full fibre broadband has regretfully been delayed slightly longer than first anticipated.

“We would like to reassure residents that we are addressing this and the work to survey the area is commencing over the coming weeks.

“Locals can expect to see Gigaclear’s LiDAR van in the area, which will be used to design the network and schedule the build, ensuring that the process is accelerated with minimal disruption to the community.

“Following the survey and subject to the necessary permissions, the build is due to commence in mid-October, with the first customers expected to be connected to ultrafast broadband in the spring.

“We will endeavour to keep residents informed at each stage of the build and will be keeping the rollout schedule on the Gigaclear site updated.”

In a survey carried out by Crazies Hill Residents’ Association in 2015, 93 per cent of respondents said the broadband service in the village was “not good enough”.

Residents were told that BT and Virgin Media broadband, which has been installed in nearby Wargrave, could take until this year to be introduced in Crazies Hill and would require up to £200,000 from the community.

Gigaclear promised residents the “fastest broadband in the country” if about 40 per cent of villagers signed up to its scheme.

The company uses underground fibre-optic cables, meaning contractors need to dig trenches in roads, pavements and verges around the village.

Network connection points will be installed outside every property, regardless of whether they have signed up to the scheme. Once the work is finished, only the cabinet and the lid over each connection point will be visible above ground.

Gigaclear offers speeds of up to 1,000Mb a second but other packages are available for residents who don’t need that much.

Work was originally scheduled to finish in May last year.

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