An entire street has been left out on a town-wide broadband upgrade after some residents objected to an "ugly pole" being erected.
Rogers Meadow in Marlborough, Wiltshire, has been excluded from the roll-out of ultrafast full-fibre broadband as homeowners said they wanted to protect their street's skyline.
Openreach had been due to put a telegraph pole in the road but were met with fierce opposition.
One objector, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “It’s nonsense because most people don’t want the pole and it’s only a small street so it would spoil the skyline.
“It was a very big pole, it would be like going back in time and wires would be everywhere, it would look like a chicken run.
“How would you like it? In this day and age, those things should go under the ground, it’s an ugly thing to put up.”
After several complaints, those resisting the plans were informed no pole would be erected, so they rushed to protest when workmen arrived on the scene with a pole on 7 September.
After discussions with objectors, the installation team reportedly left without carrying out any work and, according to Openreach, will not be returning.
The firm confirmed that, following consultation with locals in Rogers Meadow, they would not be installing any poles in the street.
As a result, people living in the road will not be able to upgrade to ultrafast full fibre on the Openreach network, although the upgrade will go ahead as planned for the rest of the town.
A spokesperson for Openreach said: “Our engineers and build partners are working hard to bring ultrafast, ultra-reliable Full Fibre broadband to Marlborough. This will not only create huge benefits to families and businesses in the area but also a welcome boost to the local economy.
“Wherever possible, we use existing infrastructure such as poles and ducts while building Full Fibre. We’re aware of the visual impact our equipment can have and the balance between cost effectiveness, aesthetics and safety can be difficult to achieve.
“As a result, there are times when we simply cannot avoid erecting poles to provide services efficiently, safely and in a sound engineering manner.
“In this case, a new pole was the only feasible way of delivering ultrafast Full Fibre but following objections from residents we have removed this street from our build plan.”
What is ultrafast broadband?
Fibre technology uses fibre-optic lines to supply broadband to a home faster than standard ADSL which is delivered over the copper telephone line. There are two main types of fibre: Ultrafast full fibre, which involves fibre optic cables running directly to homes, and Superfast fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), which uses a mixture of fibre-optic cables and copper wires. Most of the fibre broadband in the UK is FTTC or Cable.
Superfast and ultrafast broadband are significantly faster than standard broadband. Superfast broadband offers speeds of 30Mbit/s or more, and ultrafast 300Mbit/s or more. Using these faster connections means that you can download things much faster, make high-quality video calls over Wi-Fi, easily access online TV and music streaming services, and have several people using the broadband connection at the same time in your home.
What is the government's commitment to gigabit broadband?
The Government has made a wider commitment to increasing broadband speeds nationally.
The Conservative 2019 manifesto vowed to deliver by 2025 nationwide gigabit-broadband, which sends data at speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second.
That target was revised in November 2020 to a minimum of 85% of premises by 2025.
The Levelling Up White Paper published in February 2022 set a new target: for gigabit-broadband to be available nationwide by 2030. Nationwide coverage means “at least 99%” of premises.
The Government says it remains committed to meet 85% of premises by 2025.
The 2030 target is considered more realistic by industry stakeholders but the delay from 2025 has been described as a “blow to rural communities”.
Andrew Glover, chair of the Internet Service Providers' Association, told the BBC that the scaling back of government ambitions was "a blow to rural communities".
He added: "It puts an even greater emphasis on tackling the regulatory and practical barriers that make rollout more difficult than it should be."
The Public Accounts Committee said in January 2022 that the Government’s approach to the gigabit broadband roll-out “risks perpetuating digital inequality across the UK”. However, the Government says the revised targets reflect how quickly industry could build in hard to reach areas that need public funding alongside their commercial roll-out.
Gigabit broadband in the UK: Government targets, policy, and funding (Commons Library)
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