Oakley Green, Fifield and District Community Association Ltd
Update report 08 - 02.04.2012
Home Secretary ignored by BT

When Theresa May visited houses in Fifield a householder tackled her on the issue of broadband performance. At the end of October 2011 a confirmation letter was received by the local resident to say that Theresa May had written to the Chief Executive of BT asking to be updated on what steps were being taken to improve the service.

Three months later, when we reported this in the Winter Newsletter, no answer had yet been received from BT. We asked the residents concerned to follow up with Theresa May's office who were surprised to find that they had not received a reply. We were quite surprised too because however large the organisation and however arrogant its management we did not expect them to completely ignore the Home Secretary !

After a second letter a reply was finally received which was duly forwarded to the Fifield resident. We now have a copy of that letter which is from the Director of Public Affairs.

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Dear Theresa,

Broadband in Waltham St Lawrence and Fifield

Thank you for your letter of 18 October to Ian Livingston about your constituent. I'm sorry for the delay in replying.

Please accept my apology for not having replied to the letter you mentioned of 3rd October. We've taken up the matter with the Manager concerned. In future please send any correspondence relating BT direct to me and I will ensure this is dealt with promptly.

I appreciate the concerns of your constituents who live in Waltham St Lawrence and Fifield villages about broadband access and slower speeds. As you may know, we've invested heavily in broadband and copper based services are within the reach of more than 99% of UK households and businesses.

As part of a 2.5 billion investment programme, BT's currently installing fibre optic technology, offering broadband speeds of up to 40Mb (rising to up to 80Mbps next year) to covering two thirds of the UK by the end of 2014. This is a year ahead of our original target date. Twyford exchange, which serves Waltham St Lawrence, and Maidenhead exchange, which serves Fifield, are both included in the roll-out.

Orders are being accepted at both exchanges. Over 5,500 of the premises served by the Twyford exchange will be able to benefit and ovec 24,500 premises served by the Maidenhead exchange will be able to benefit. Unfortunately residents in Conningsby Lane, Fifiefd, have lines which are too far from the street cabinet to be able to get the service. This is a challenge in some areas, particularly more rural locations.

There are many commercial and technical issues that make the roll-out of broadband to all customers complex and challenging. I'd be happy to meet with you to discuss this in more detail.

Yours sincerely

Tim O'Sullivan
Director of Public Affairs

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The Director of Public Affairs has completely missed the point that it is not the distance from the cabinet that is at issue here but that the cabinet itself has not been upgraded, and is apparently the only one along the A308 that hasn't. It is this particular state of affairs that we are trying to get answers to. So we will now be replying to the Director of Public Affairs ourselves to ask for an explanation and to find out if he is as happy to meet with us to discuss this in more detail as he claims he is to meet with the Home Secretary.

As there are more than 100 businesses in our area it is particularly puzzling that BT seem to have judged our area to be commercially unviable. We look forward to the renewed drive to promote the OGAFCA Business Network as we see this route as a very valuable pressure group requiring BT and Openreach to explain themselves.

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