Guest column: Extra cash for faster broadband

Coun Kay Cutts, Nottinghamshire County Council leader
Coun Kay Cutts, Nottinghamshire County Council leader

I am pleased we’ve been able to confirm an extension to the roll-out of superfast broadband in Nottinghamshire beyond the end of the current contract in September 2018.

We’re already on target to have superfast broadband available for 98 per cent of homes and businesses in the county by next autumn.

But we’re not planning to stand still.

That will still leave around 16,500 properties in the county without access to superfast broadband.

So we’ve secured a further £1.2 million for the Better Broadband for Nottinghamshire (BBfN) programme which will be used to provide digital infrastructure in some of the most remote parts of the county.

We’ll ensure the maximum number of homes and businesses are covered by this further extension. We’ll be in a position to announce where and when by early next year.

Good access to broadband is vital.

It makes Nottinghamshire a more attractive proposition for businesses, new investment and jobs - as well as a better place to live.

BBfN has helped ensure coverage in Nottinghamshire is amongst the best in the UK at 96.3 per cent.

There is one area of frustration, however.

A countywide survey found that hundreds of homes developed in the last five years did not have in-built broadband provision.

It beggars belief that new properties have been built without connectivity over a period of time when the importance of good broadband at home has been well known.

This is especially frustrating as the main commercial providers are often willing to install fibre broadband to individual premises during construction, free of charge.

If you live in a new home without access to broadband, we’d advise that you contact the housing developer in the first instance.

Failing that, speak with one of the main providers – BT Openreach and Virgin Media – who may consider installing services if there was enough interest.

For BBfN to retro-fit broadband at new developments means digging up newly laid roads and pavements and install cables and cabinets at the taxpayers expense, installing infrastructure that should have been there in the first place.

To avoid this happening in the future, we are urging developers and district council planning authorities to ensure that superfast broadband is included within development requirements from now on, giving broadband equal status to electricity, water and gas supplies.