Saturday, 14 December 2019

Speed it up, says landlady

A PUB landlady says the business is being affected by a delay in the installation of superfast broadband in her village.

Sandra Purdy, who runs the Horns in Crazies Hill, says the low speeds she experiences mean she has trouble processing food and drink orders through the pub’s computers. She has also had issues with paying staff.

The village agreed a deal with provider Gigaclear in July 2016 in a bid to improve on speeds as slow as two megabits per second.

The company promised the “fastest broadband in the country” and said it could offer up to 1,000Mb.

However, the £3.5million project has repeatedly stalled afterGigaclear ran into problems with groundworks.

In September, the Henley Standard revealed that the project was unlikely to be completed before spring, almost two years later than planned.

The company now says that the first homes in the village will be connected by March.

Ms Purdy said she was frustrated by the lack of reliable and quick web access.

She said: “The impact of not having superfast broadband to the pub generally involves not being able to process orders online in a timely manner and sometimes the internet dropping out and having to start all over again.

“Quite often I’ve experienced problems when processing the payroll and odd payments do not automatically go through for staff, causing frustration for them and making The Horns look unprofessional.”

Ms Purdy said the problem also meant she and other residents were unable to stream TV programmes or download films or online games.

She said: “Some children have waited weeks for a game to download whereas their friends only experience a couple of hours’ wait, let alone trying to do their homework, which is now predominantly based on using the internet and uploading school work via portals.

“The other impact on the village is that office space becomes hard to let. Potential business owners are looking for property but are deterred by the lack of superfast broadband.”

Phil Davies, a Wargrave parish councillor and member of the Crazies Hill Residents’ Association, said several changes in personnel had contributed to the delays. “This is the fifth contractor and probably the fifth project manager,” he said.

A Gigaclear spokeswoman said: “The Gigaclear network construction works covering this area consist of three full fibre cabinets.

“The works were restarted on December 10 but have now paused for the Christmas break.We expect to have the first Crazies Hill area customers live at the end of March 2019. We will send updates to those residents and businesses we are connecting.

“In the meantime, please use the Gigaclear postcode checker to check coverage and register an email address to be kept informed on build progress for properties to be connected.”

Gigaclear is also involved in the broadband rollout programme covering parts of Wargrave and Charvil that has been delayed. Superfast Berkshire was launched in 2013 with the aim of providing superfast broadband to 99 per cent of the county by September 2019.

Gigaclear and fellow provider BT are currently installing broadband boxes in the Wargrave area but say the project is now unlikely to be completed before the end of next year.

They blamed a lack of engineering capacity in the broadband industry and Gigaclear’s large number of commitments.

Stuart Munro, executive member for business, economic development and strategic planning at Wokingham Borough Council, said: “We’re working closely with both suppliers to minimise these delays and to meet the broadband expectations of our communities.

“Any extra programme costs associated with this late delivery and other remedial works will be borne by the contractors.”

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