Dear Real Business, we are a multi award winning company based in semi rural South Gloucestershire. We are technically rural but are only two miles from a huge overspill town and the largest Tescos in the country – and we have major BT broadband problems.
Williams Automobiles exports British manufactured products worldwide. We train sales executives from China and also offer tourism services. As a rural business we meet one of the highest number of criterion for a rural business from our local LEP.
Both our company and almost the whole of rural South Gloucestershire have been truly let down by our council when it comes to BT broadband problems. We get, at the very best 1.5 meg and a norm of about .5 meg with a .1 meg upload.
Despite a complete whitewash from the council and BT with non-disclosure agreements, a workable service cannot be installed due to BTs lack of infrastructure that – despite the government giving the provider over a billion pounds – is only just coming to light.
BT has relied on what it calls fibre to the cabinet. From the cabinet it relies on the existing copper or aluminium wired network. The problem with this is that the broadband signal degrades so that between .8 of a km to 1.2 of a km the signal drops to less than the old dial up system used to be. As our business and community is routed 3km from our cabinet we cannot get a workable speed.
The provider and our council are spending significant amounts of money to inform people that superfast fibre broadband will soon come to rural areas. But it isn’t. If my company advertised in such a misleading way we would find ourselves in court for breaching the trade description act.
This issue is not just confined to the UK although BT is the worst provider, but there are also issues in France and Germany. I am in fact writing this from Spain where this issue is being overcome by using a fixed wireless “line of sight” system that I have installed in my house. It is significantly better than in the UK and cheaper.
The local councils here in Spain are backing small entrepreneurial companies setting up with this system and they are expanding quickly. I have approached our council regarding this method but it is so committed with giving money to the provider that it is not interested in even testing whether it will get rid of the BT broadband problems.
I have been recently informed that Teresa May is realising the problem and will be investigating it.
I am at board level with Openreach and BT about this and have organised and chaired a meeting with our local community, regional BT directors, our MPs, MEPs, the FSB, the CLA, the Countryside Alliance,the chief exec of SGC, our local LEP and the IOD. I got the BBC to film it. The only result of this was that we got a fibre enabled cabinet in the village I organised the meeting in.
I am willing to put myself and my company forward as a example of having our business held back by BTs deplorable revenue raising strategy. I am sure Real Business are aware of this problem but I am sure you do not realise just how enormous it is.
How about calling for business rates relief on business premised with less than ten meg and a reduction in council tax for residents. That will start a ball rolling.
Richard Williams, chairman of Williams Automobiles
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