TWO petitions calling for improved broadband speeds across Uplyme were handed to representatives from BT at a public meeting on Friday.
The meeting was held in Uplyme Village Hall following months of correspondence between dissatisfied residents of Uplyme and BT.
An online petition was launched earlier this year, with more than 100 residents calling for BT to upgrade their line so that they could receive superfast broadband.
Currently, some residents claim they only receive internet speeds of 1 to 2mbps – compared to superfast speeds of 24mbps – which they have said prevents them from working from home and their children from completing their homework.
At the meeting on Friday, chaired by lead campaigner Ed Blundell, petitions from residents of both Uplyme and Harcombe were handed to Paul Coles, BT South West Partnerships Director; Roy Clark, Senior Fibre Delivery Manager for the South West; and Marion Brailey, Senior Operations Manager.
Mr Coles explained that BT invested £2.5billion in providing two thirds of the UK with superfast broadband in 2009. This was invested into areas where it was deemed most financially viable, such as high density areas.
Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) was then set up to deliver next generation broadband infrastructure to areas where the market failed to invest, aiming to reach 90 per cent of the population by the end of 2016.
CDS is currently coming to the end of its Phase 1 roll-out, but Uplyme was not included in this. It is not yet known which areas will benefit from Phase 2 of the roll-out.
Mr Blundell commented: “No other organisation can help us. No internet service provider can help us because they have to work with the infrastructure BT provides. We’re not covered by CDS or any other programme we are aware of.
“BT has received funding to cover areas not otherwise covered. Why has this not happened here?”
Residents complained that BT had been unable to give a positive or specific answer on when their broadband speeds would be improved.
Mr Coles said that the second phase of the CDS roll-out might pick up Uplyme, or residents could discuss co-investing in infrastructure themselves, adding: “I understand your frustration.”
Uplyme resident Rob Lane replied: “I don’t think you do understand our frustration. Stepping back from superfast broadband, I’d be happy with regular speeds.”
He complained that his internet speed had been halved from 2.5mbps since BT had installed infrastructure for superfast broadband elsewhere.
“You’re responsible for degrading my service because you didn’t have a contingency plan in place,” he argued.
Ian Thomas, East Devon district councillor for the Trinity ward, which includes Uplyme, offered to take residents’ post codes and check if they were likely to be included in Phase 2 of the CDS roll-out, and hand them to BT to carry out a survey.
He also suggested that residents may be able to benefit from the CDS voucher scheme. More information on this can be found on the website www.connectingdevonandsomerset.co.uk