Ofcom pushing for better broadband in rural areas

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Ofcom’s plans to make digital communications work for everyone, including major reform of BT’s network division, Openreach, have been welcomed across the region.

The Countryside Alliance also supports a competitive broadband market and is stressing the need for the UK Government and Ofcom to take consumers’ needs into account more.

Alliance spokesman Sarah Lee said: “The need for connectivity in the countryside is essential if we want our rural communities to prosper.

“Some 1.5 million premises in the countryside are unable to receive speeds above 10mbit/s, so we need to ensure the debate on the future of BT and Openreach does not distract us from the rollout of broadband to those communities which are currently receiving a poor level of service and who need connectivity now.”

At a recent special meeting of Scottish Borders Council’s Berwickshire area forum, broadband was the sole item on the agenda, and the authority’s corporate transformation services director, Rob Dickson, indicated that the council’s new contract with CGI to deliver fibre capacity to all secondary and some primary schools in the Borders was seen as a challenge to BT.

As well as bringing 100 jobs to the region and increased fibre broadband capacity to schools, the council is looking at how the CGI initiative could be extended to be part of the solution to poor broadband connections and speed in parts of Berwickshire.

The council provided £8.4m towards the rollout of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme in the region, and while that project has been successful, gaps in service have become evident.

As reported here, Mr Dickson promised that the council will look to offer help to postcode areas with little or no connectivity.