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BT’s rural Cambridgeshire broadband project still stalled

BT’s Race to Infinity project that aims to connect selected rural locations across the UK has yet to be completed in parts of rural Cambridgeshire. 

While parts of Cambourne, Caldecote, Hardwick and Madingley have been connected to superfast FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) and FTTP (Fibre to the Premises), several residents and businesses are still waiting to be connected and they’re not happy. 

After having helped collect the signatures required to enter and win the Race to Infinity competition, a local businessman has been quoted saying: “We gave up time we should have spent building our business to help BT with this project. On the assumption that BT would deliver, we have invested in Voice Over IP and cloud storage, neither of which we can exploit properly with the existing broadband service.”

BT’s rural Cambridgeshire broadband project still stalled

Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Rural BroadbandOn top of this, a result of the high demand for superfast services caused what a BT spokesperson described as “a short-term capacity issue,” which has meant that some customers have been unable to place an order for superfast broadband despite it being available.

Local resident Trish Pritchard says: “We placed our order on the 13th of April with our final installation booked for the 29th. A couple of our neighbours had already had it installed so we were confident there would be no problems.  

“However BT’s order system failed and they didn’t carry out the necessary external works so we had to postpone the final installation. This happened twice more until the external works were completed and I had a carrier wire hanging out of my wall. 

“I then expected the final installation to happen quickly but by this stage (early June) BT Openreach had put a freeze on all new installations in the village. I haven’t been able to progress our order further despite it being half finished and having close neighbours who have got the service and it is working for them. I still have the carrier wire hanging out of my front wall.”

The Race to Infinity in the Madingley area might not be finished until November 2013A BT spokesperson told us that it was aware of the issue and will be announcing further details soon:

“We are aware of a number of properties within the Cambourne Race to Infinity area that have been unable to place orders for superfast broadband. This is as a result of a short-term capacity issue, thanks to the rapid uptake and popularity of the service. 

“We’ve already started the plan and build activity to increase capacity in the area by constructing additional optical splitters, and we aim to complete this work as rapidly as possible, to make sure that all premises affected by this issue can place orders. 

“We remain committed to our stated deployment plans for the exchange, and will shortly be commencing the next phase of our deployment of fibre infrastructure to areas not covered as part of the initial roll-out.”

Recombu Digital understands that roughly half of the residents in the village of Hardwick can get FTTC broadband, with the other half due to get FTTP at some point. 

Everyone in Coton can get FTTC broadband and FTTP broadband is available to roughly 40 per cent of Caldecote. 

BT’s spokespeople added “The vast majority of premises in the Madingley exchange area do have access to superfast broadband as a result of the Race to Infinity programme. We have experienced some practical challenges in connecting the remaining premises, as this has involved using new overhead fibre technology. However, we have now commenced the final build stage for this project and would expect the remaining properties to gain access in the next couple of months.”

While other Race to Infinity projects across the UK have finished, the Madingley area has been subjected to a number of delays. Caldecote residents were told that work would be finished in April, only to later learn that the finish line had been moved to June. That date has moved yet again to a couple of months so the work might not be finished until late November or early December. 

While installing fibre broadband in rural areas can be a challenge for big companies like BT, we can well understand the frustration of locals waiting patiently. 

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