|I've introduced this page in response to the many messages I'm getting from constituents to the effect that:|
"My village / home / business seems unlikely to get BT's ADSL or a competing cable service - what can I do about it?"
I am actively campaigning for better answers to this question, as you will see from the other pages here. Meanwhile here are the situation and the options as I understand them:
Why can't you get broadband?
There are several possible reasons and you need to understand which applies to you:
1. Your home or business is too far from the exchange. This applies to relatively few people but if you are among them and live in an isolated area your only practical options are satellite service or leased line, see below.
2. You are too far from an exchange but live in a community. In this case a local wireless solution is probably the best answer. There may be quite a high start up cost to get a main broadband 'backhaul' link to the community as a whole, but then a relatively low cost for every home and business to use that link via wireless methods. Today this means a local campaign to raise or qualify for the relevant funding, see below.
3. Your exchange is too small for BT to enable it according to their current assessment of the commercial viability. In my view it's now time for the Government and the regulatory authority to break this particular logjam by (a) getting BT to publish the true costs for each exchange for which they haven't set a target; and (b) working actively with local authorities to get all these exchanges enabled. It seems to me inappropriate that our smallest local communities should be expected to find the resources, skills and additionally effort to wage campaigns and raise funds and work out complex business cases in an environment where communities are competing for limited outside help to address this issue. However for the moment, the best practical step is to make sure your community has at least an active "We Want Broadband" campaign and is working to make sure you are high on the list for whatever help is available. Given the present uncertainty about enabling smaller exchanges for ADSL (BT keeps revising its judgement on what is commercially viable!), the challenge here is the decision whether to wait for ADSL, accelerate ADSL by funding a local subsidy, or raise support for a local wireless service.
4. Your exchange is large enough to qualify for ADSL but BT has set a registrations target that appears to be unsurmountable. This has been the case in some parts of my Constituency, notably Kingsclere (see www.kingsclere.net/broadband ), where I understand that BT would have to install additional backhaul capacity and has therefore taken this cost into account. While this may be a reasonable commercial judgement, it highlights the fact that our present national policy for broadband is not fully taking into account what the Goverment calls 'market failure'. The Government recognises that broadband is an essential business tool and a valuable asset for consumers and parents, but leaves it to the chance of the market whether or not a community like Kingsclere should get broadband on similar terms to other comparable communities. I think that from a commercial perspective BT should now publish a list of such exchanges so we know the size of the problem; from a policy perspective national and local governments should cooperate with suppliers to solve it, rather than expecting each small local community to work out its own solution. Meanwhile again the immediate priority within the community is to make sure there is an active campaign to 'pull' the necessary support and solution. Kingsclere already took this route and a local campaign has quite quickly led to a wireless solution.
What can I do to get an immediate solution?
Individually, there are two main immediate options, neither of which may be satisfactory:
(a) Install a satellite service. You will find background information and links in these pages. You will also find reasons why this is a good option for some companies and households but not for all.
(b) Order a private leased line service from BT. The installation and running costs mean this is really only appropriate for rather large companies or for a company wanting to run its own websites on servers based in their own premises - which generally means a specialist website developer or hosting company.
What can I do if these options are not right for me?
The alternative is to join or start a local community action to get broadband delivered to your local community, through the appropriate combination of:
(a) campaigning for ADSL to be delivered via the local exchange
The Constituency's first local campaign was "Tadley Wants Broadband". The campaign was successful and ADSL was provided from the Tadley exchange from June 2002. Next was a campaign at Overton, then at Highclere. Others have followed. I have no doubt at all that these campaigns not only accelerated local delivery of ADSL but helped to focus BT on reducing the thresholds for implementation and to raise the profile of the rural broadband issue with the media, national and local government.
(b) A local investigation of whether local wireless may be a better solution. If you start on this make sure your campaign is visible to your local authority and to the Regional Development Agency - their contact details are on my website - check the broadband links page . There is also a growing raft of support information about community wireless solutions, for which you should find links in these pages.
(c) Make sure I know about your local campaign so that I can help and to add to the weight of my challenges on this topic to the Government, BT and others.
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