Thursday, 15 April 2021

Councillor frustrated by broadband delivery delay

COUNCILLORS are to press broadband provider Gigaclear over a long-delayed project to install a superfast service in Crazies Hill.

Residents agreed a deal with the company in July 2016 but the £3.5million project has stalled after the firm ran into problems with groundworks. The work is unlikely to be completed until the end of the year, more than two years later than first planned.

Philip Davies, a member of the Crazies Hill and Cockpole Green Residents’ Association and a Wargrave parish councillor, said he wanted to see more pressure put on the company to deliver the scheme, which he claimed was one of many across the country to have been delayed.

He said the project manager for the scheme had changed several times and contractors were not always available due to nationwide demand.

Councillor Davies told a parish council on Monday: “The last communication was ‘it’s still coming’ but they have been saying that for the last two years.

“So much fibre is being dug across the country and contractors are in demand. How do we get to be top of the correction pile?

“I think they are currently standing in a waterfall of problems and don’t know which one to fix.”

Cllr Davies said residents had considered other schemes and Wokingham borough councillor John Halsall had been in touch with Superfast Berkshire, which has installed boxes in Wargrave but does not cover Crazies Hill.

He said another option could be Countryside, which offers a wireless service using an aerial receiver.

Cllr Davies said: “A number of residents have asked if Countryside could come and quote them.

“The unfortunate thing is you have got to be in a line of sight from Woodcote. They can do a few houses but it’s not a solution for the villages up there because there aren’t enough houses in the line of sight.

“It’s not a solution I’ve pursued. We say Superfast Berkshire ought to be looking at the situation very closely.”

Residents of Crazies Hill currently experience speeds as slow as two megabits per second but Gigaclear promised the “fastest broadband in the country” and said it could offer up to 1,000Mb. 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, would take longer to be introduced in Crazies Hill and would require up to £200,000 from the community.

Gigaclear 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.

Work was originally scheduled to finish in May 2017.

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