Cheltenham campaign group formed over £9k super-fast broadband upgrade bill header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

Residents of a Cheltenham housing estate have expressed their discontent over the high costs they will have to face to secure much-needed upgrades to their local broadband infrastructure.

Around 200 homes in the Chargrove Lane area have been denied access to higher speeds because BT has decided it is not commercially viable to upgrade their local cabinet, leading the residents to form their own campaign group, Cheltenham 151.

Speaking to, campaign coordinator Clark Lawson explained that many of the locals are struggling with speeds of just 0.5Mbps, while he himself is only able to access a connection speed of 1.6Mbps "on a good day".

The group has already held meetings with local councillors and Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood, as well as with BT Openreach, in order to find solutions to the problem. Part of the reason behind the issue is the fact that the area utilises block paving, which makes it more difficult to upgrade the broadband connectivity.

BT has told the locals that it will cost £9,000 plus VAT to bridge the gap between the cost of the upgrades and the amount that BT is willing to spend. The onus has therefore fallen on the residents themselves to raise the money to make up the shortfall.

Cheltenham 151 has also been in touch with Fastershire, the group delivering the government's national super-fast broadband rollout in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, but the organisation has also proven unable to step in and help out with the upgrades - despite its commitment to provide speeds of 2Mbps to all by the end of the year.

Mr Lawson said: "There is no commitment at all from Fastershire, no indication from them that anything will happen.

"There are other areas in Cheltenham with similar problems. We feel as if we are falling through the cracks."

The government has a stated goal of rolling out super-fast broadband speeds to 95 per cent of the country by 2017, but a recent survey by the County Councils Network revealed that 45 per cent of its members do not believe this target will be met by the proposed date.