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Eight months later: Yeovil homeowners no closer to getting decent broadband

Thursday, February 19th 2015 by Hannah Langston

Residents of the Wyndham Park housing estate in Yeovil are still waiting to hear when they'll be upgraded to fibre broadband – five years after the first homes were built.

Locals, who are struggling with speeds of less than 1Mbps, complained of authorities passing the buck over improving broadband access when Cable.co.uk first spoke to them in July.

Barratt Developments, which built the 450 properties on site, said it had provided all facilities to allow Openreach to supply a service.

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), a partnership between local councils and BT to equip 90% of properties with fibre by the end of 2016, said at the time it was carrying out “survey and planning work” on the estate.

But according to Wyndham Park resident Alan Hobday, there have been “no improvements”.

“If anything, broadband speeds have got slower as they’ve built more houses on the development,” he told Cable.co.uk.

“I get between 0.3Mbps-1Mbps – it takes me eight hours to download a movie.

“It’s just so frustrating, especially as I’m living in a brand new home.”

Mr Hobday contacted CDS in January and was told the upgrade had been “held up due to an unsigned power wayleave”. A wayleave is a consent in writing between Openreach and a private landowner allowing Openreach to install or upgrade infrastructure.

“Openreach are currently negotiating this and investigating alternative delivery methods in the event that an agreement cannot be reached,” a representative told Mr Hobday in an email.

'Zero changes'

Fellow resident and web developer Rick Lord, who set up a petition to encourage BT and CDS to upgrade the estate, also contacted them for an update.

“If I order a sofa, they tell me it will be 6-8 weeks to make and ship, they know this because it’s their business to know timeframes.

“I raised the question with [Connecting Devon and Somerset], ‘are we looking at three, six or over 12 months?’ Just a ballpark area of time we can hope for and I got nothing."

He added: “I still think this entire process is a joke, whilst I understand there is a lot of work to be done probably involving digging up roads, laying new fibre cables etc. It amazes me that these so-called organisations have no clue or even a rough idea of completion dates.

“We're now three years down the line with zero changes.”

The estate is currently classed as ‘under evaluation’ on the Connecting Devon and Somerset website,with an estimated date range for surveys as between January and June this year.

When asked when Wyndham Park would be upgraded to fibre broadband, Connecting Devon and Somerset programme manager Matthew Ballard told Cable.co.uk: “Parts [of the estate] will be done at different times and these can be checked on our website by entering postcodes.

“Where survey and planning has been completed we give estimated go-live dates on our website. Where survey and planning hasn’t been completed we are unable to give 'go-live' dates because we can’t be sure of the solution.”

Mr Ballard said the planning and survey work carried out last year was “partly” completed.

He confirmed CDS is “actively pursuing” wayleaves and “these may affect the dates we are currently forecasting on the website”.

BT Openreach was invited to comment but did not respond before deadline.

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