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Yeovil homeowners demand action over slow broadband in new homes

Tuesday, July 15th 2014 by Hannah Langston

Residents of a new housing estate in Yeovil have accused authorities of passing the buck over improving broadband access for the community.

The Wyndham Park estate is only four years old but residents of its 400 homes have broadband speeds of around 1Mbps, which is comparable with typical broadband speeds in 2004.

Neighbouring homes have been upgraded to fibre broadband as part of BT’s commercial rollout, but Wyndham Park is yet to see similar improvements.

“I’m a website developer and work from home. Half the time I have to wait 30 minutes to upload files for clients,” local resident Richard Lord told Cable.co.uk.

“There are lots of students on the estate who can’t do their homework and some are studying for Open University degrees. I know one resident who travels to McDonalds every day just to use the free Wi-Fi.”

The estate falls under the remit of Somerset Council and BT’s Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership, which aims to equip 90% of properties with fibre by the end of 2016, but residents say authorities are being unclear about installation dates.

"I’ve sent between 12-15 letters to BT via my MP – everyone passes the buck,” said Mr Lord, who has set up a petition to encourage BT and Somerset Council to upgrade the estate.

“One and a half years later and I’m none the wiser as to when I’m getting fibre.

"I don’t doubt we will eventually get fibre, but not knowing for a year and a half is rubbish! We’ve been forgotten and kept in the dark. We just want to know – is it going to happen or not?”

Fellow resident Alan Hobday said: “I’ve talked to the council and my MP lots of times. So have other residents, but everyone seems to be wringing their hands of it."

“They’ve been having meetings with each other but won’t tell us a thing.”

Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) wrote to local MP David Laws (Yeovil, Lib-Dem) in April explaining that “Wyndham Park is a new estate which has recently been completed and therefore would not have been factored into the original CDS build plans”. The letter was later shared with Mr Lord.

Some residents have been told that Barratts Homes is at fault for not installing the correct infrastructure to support fibre broadband connections. However, Russell Glimstead, operations director of Barratt Exeter told us: “We have provided all facilities required by BT Openreach to supply residents with these services.

“The actual service and speeds available are the responsibility of the service provider and we have met with BT Openreach to raise the issue,” he said.

Speaking to Cable.co.uk, a BT spokesperson said: “The Connecting Devon and Somerset partnership is carrying out survey and planning work with a view to hopefully being able to bring high-speed fibre broadband to the area.

“Further information will be available once the surveying and planning has been completed.”

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