Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire get fast broadband

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Six communities in Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire are to be the first in the area to get superfast broadband.

Royal Wootton Bassett, Purton, Downton and Alderbury in Wiltshire and Wick and Pucklechurch in South Gloucestershire will benefit from the deal.

The £35.6m project with BT is designed to bring the service to areas identified as too expensive for commercial rollout.

It is partly funded by the government's Broadband Delivery UK programme.

The project aims to deliver superfast broadband to 94% of homes by the end of March 2016.

"Internet usage for our rural communities will be transformed thanks to faster broadband speeds while businesses will benefit from increased file storage and processing, for example," said councillor John Goddard of South Gloucestershire Council.

'Proven demand'

But the announcement has been greeted with frustration by Stephen Horton, the editor of the Bradley Stoke Journal, which has led the campaign for superfast broadband in the town.

The area is served by two telephone exchanges - Filton, which has superfast broadband, and Almondsbury, which does not. Many residents suffer from slow internet speeds.

"To the best of my knowledge, not a single household in Bradley Stoke has benefited from the enabling of the Filton telephone exchange for superfast broadband, which was announced more than two years ago," he said.

"Thousands of homes in our town are served from that exchange, but BT has so far failed to install the new street cabinets that are necessary to make the service available.

"As for the Almondsbury exchange, which serves the remainder of the town and was ranked very highly in BT's own fibre broadband customer interest survey in 2010, people simply can't understand why the company hasn't invested its own money to satisfy this proven demand for a better service."

A spokesman for the council said: "Enabling access to superfast broadband across the area is a complex project and involves wide scale infrastructure deployment.

"This inevitably means that there are areas across South Gloucestershire which will be delivered earlier than others, as the time it takes to work through each stage will vary in each area."

Jason Mann from BT said the scheme was in "relatively early stages" and "more announcements on further locations are expected in the next six to 12 months".

He added: "We accept there are places that don't have access to fibre broadband but detailed surveying work is being undertaken now to help us make the service as widely available as possible."

Wiltshire Council has invested £15.5m in the joint project.

"These are just the first of many of our communities who will benefit from high speed broadband access," said John Thomson, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for broadband.

"This will provide a huge boost to existing businesses in our county and attract those looking to move in."

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