Oakley Green, Fifield and District Community Association Ltd
Update report 14 - 02.01.2013

Broadband from January 2013 ... Maybe not ?

Most residents with an interest in an improved broadband service will know that after waiting for the "Infinity" fibre-optic service in 2010 BT's promises turned out to be empty. Since then we have been trying endlessly to discover why the box at the junction of the Fifield Road and A308 appeared to have been the only one along the main road not to have been upgraded to fibre-optic capability.

It seemed impossible to get a reply to this simple question. The office of the Chairman of BT said it was nothing to do with them and referred us to Openreach. Most people will have noticed that the livery on Openreach vans includes a BT logo, and the Head Office address is identical to the one we used to send letters to the Chairman of BT !

It turned out that it was impossible to find anyone at Openreach who will speak to the general public beyond referring you back to your service supplier ... ie, BT. What a fantastically efficient cut-out loop they have established between them. At the start of 2011 we received a lot of co-operation from Councillors Burbage and Bateson who managed to obtain replies from both Openreach and BT. Openreach admitted that the particular junction box had been excluded from the fibre-optic upgrade programme because "... there were certain issues that did not meet our commercial criteria ..." but that "... this initial decision was reviewed and we are now including this junction box in the roll out." They said it could take as long as 2 years to do this.

In October 2011 the Rt Hon Theresa May's team visited some local addresses and was asked about the poor Broadband service., which she promised to follow up. After 3 months we asked the resident concerned if they had received any update. Theresa May's office had to send a second request for an answer. The level of corporate arrogance required for a Government Minister to be ignored for 3 months is truly staggering.

In Spring 2012 an apologetic response was eventually received from a Mr Tim O'Sullivan, BT Director of Public Affairs. Unfortunately his initial response was full of marketing double-speak and completely missed the detail point of the box on the A308. Theresa May then arranged a meeting with BT and we asked to be kept informed. Cutting a very long story short (which can be followed on the web site “Communications” page) a reply from Mr O'Sullivan via Theresa May's office promised an upgraded service would be available from July 2012.

At the very end of July 2012 this promise was withdrawn due to unforeseen technical problems which would have to wait for the Olympics to be over. This work was duly carried out and for a while it seemed that an upgraded service might be available from the end of September 2012. Once again this proved not to be the case and yet another request to Theresa May's office for information eventually produced a reply from Mr O'Sullivan which promised an upgraded service from the New Year.

Well, it is now as I write, 2nd January 2013 ... HAPPY NEW YEAR ! So I've just checked the BT web site again which now tells me that the earliest I can expect to be able to upgrade to Infinity is 31st March 2013. Why am I not surprised that the promised target has shifted yet again ? I suppose I should be grateful that at long last I am at least being told something ! Our next task is to establish what the situation is for residents in Forest Green Road.

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