BT's communication with Midhurst and Petworth villages 'poor' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

Residents from rural villages in West Sussex have criticised BT over its poor communication regarding the installation of super-fast broadband, or lack of  in their area.

According to the Midhurst and Petworth Observer, these two communities have been trying to get the firm to tell them when they are set to get the improved speeds, but so far they have not had much luck.

The group have now decided to bypass BT and speed to West Sussex County Council instead, hoping that the local authority will intervene on their behalf.

In a meeting of committee members, Ian Heustice, former chairman of Easebourne Parish Council, said that residents have become increasingly frustrated as the new homes built on the King Edward VII hospital development have been receiving a super-fast broadband service that the existing houses were not getting.

He explained that every new property built on the development will have a personal fibre-optic cable delivering a superior service, whereas houses just two miles away on Kings Drive, Scotland Lane and Hurst Par do not have access to this quality of broadband.

While these residents are not expecting their own personal fibre-optic cable, they do want access to the same speeds. Mr Heustice said that so far, there has been no success in bringing the cabinet closer to the existing homes.

The residents contacted their local authority to see if more could be done for them. He added: "I wonder whether the county council would have any influence on BT to give us, at least, a cabinet nearer to the residents’ homes."

However, chairman of the county local committee Michael Brown told Mr Heustice that the authority does not have much influence over BT. He continued: "In my view they are pretty poor when it comes to engaging with local communities."

West Sussex County Council had a £20 million contract with the telecommunications firm to roll out super-fast broadband to all communities within the region, but Mr Brown explained that BT has operational control of the programme .

BT normally works through Openreach, but as the houses were new, it decided to install the cables for faster speed while other work was being carried out. The rest of the the county will need to wait until 2016 for improved connectivity.

“Trying to get them to change is very difficult. They are not a particularly communicative organisation," Mr Brown continued.

He has promised residents that he will attempt to get a BT representative to talk to the communities affected.