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‘Superfast’ broadband bypasses Somerset village

Villagers in Heathfield, just five miles from Taunton in Somerset, have been told they must wait years for their dire broadband speeds to improve despite ‘superfast’ fibre optic cable lying under land nearby, the Western Daily Press reports.

image of fibre optic cableVillagers endure speeds as low as 0.7 megabits on download, and 0.36 upload. Neighbouring communities are getting 24 megabits.

The village, which comprises 30 houses, lies within a triangle of cabinets providing faster connectivity to other communities, so villagers have dubbed their home the Heathfield Triangle and have launched the Heathfield Triangle action group.

When villagers asked asked BT if they could have their own cabinet, they were told they would have to pay for it themselves. Villagers estimate the cost at tens of thousands of pounds (aren’t quasi-monopoly suppliers generous? Ed.).

Richard Payne, a local farmer who has fibre optic cables passing under his land said: “It seems ridiculous that we have this fibre optic cable around and yet we can’t receive a high speed service. It would be faster for me to train a racing pigeon to take messages. We are only getting a fraction of the service we pay for.”

A spokesman for Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS), the partnership handling the local provision of so-called superfast broadband said: “CDS is working hard to make high-speed fibre broadband as widely available as possible and is on track to meet its target of making superfast broadband available to around 90 per cent of households and businesses in Devon and Somerset by the end of next year.

“Inevitably, there are some locations where it is not viable to provide fibre broadband in the current programme because of the considerable engineering challenges and costs involved.

“However, CDS is currently finalising plans for a further investment of more than £45 mn. which will bring superfast broadband to many more locations.”