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Broadband speeds - It’s good to talk about plans

Sir, – Brendan Dick and Sara Budge are correct that Broadband statistics can be misleading (Letters, 8 September), which is why I remain sceptical of the claims and targets made with respect to both the BT commercial and Scottish Government’s programmes.

For example, I have two constituents, both attached to fibre enabled BT cabinets. One (at Kevock Road, Lasswade) is connected to a cabinet half a mile away (at Hillhead). The best ’superfast’ broadband speed they can get is around 10 Mbps. Another constituent lives in the Brixwold area and has been told that the cabinet already has the maximum number of fibre slots used up (about half of the total households attached to the cabinet) and so he has to go on a waiting list.

Both constituents appear on the map as being in areas ‘covered’ by superfast broadband, but neither is getting the service they should expect.

I met with Mr Dick in December 2012, soon after my election as a councillor, as it was immediately clear to me then that this was going to be a major issue for the fast growing parts of Bonnyrigg. I am grateful that he was keen to meet with me and I received a very sympathetic hearing.

However, despite being director for BT Scotland, he told me he had no influence over the rollout programme, which has been the same message I’ve received from every BT contact I’ve spoken to in the subsequent four years. The programme has been decided and we’re not changing it – even when big new housing developments like at Hopefield spring up.

Indeed, I’ve been given very little in the way of commitments by BT contacts, despite many meetings, phone calls and emails. This culminated in my being told over a year ago that BT staff were no longer allowed to pass on any information (even to elected representatives) and any updates would be available through their web site.

I need an assurance that not only will fibre broadband be available to 98 per cent of customers by 2018, but that it will be over 20Mbps for everyone, that it will not involve anyone then being on a waiting list and that we will be given regular up to date information on when cabinets will be upgraded. The current programmes have been plagued by schedule slippage with scant information being made available, and my best source of information is social media posts by constituents who spot Openreach vans in the neighbourhood! – Yours, etc.,

Councillor Ian Baxter

Bonnyrigg Ward

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