A group of Bynea residents who have been badly let down by BT over Broadband speeds are now considering taking matters into their own hands. They have suffered from practically non-existent broadband access, some for many years, after moving into new properties, which are linked in to the Swansea exchange rather than the Llanelli one.
The final straw came at the close of 2017, when after months of being led to believe by Openreach that they would be benefitting from the upgrade being carried out with funding from Welsh Government, they were told that Openreach had completed the requisite number of properties to fulfil their contractual duties and the programme was now finished.
This is a shocking situation. Local householders and I have been contacting BT Openreach for months, some cases years, about the appalling lack of usable broadband, which is clearly affecting people’s work, leisure and education.
In response to residents’ concerns, I organised a meeting last Saturday with Ed Hunt, who has responsibility within BT Openreach for the roll-out of the broadband programme across Wales. At the meeting, which was also attended by local County Councillor Deryk Cundy, residents expressed their extreme frustration with broadband speeds of barely half a megabyte and their anger that after months of raised expectation, they still had no proper broadband. Mr Hunt explained that the next Welsh Government programme would take some months to set up because there has to be a new tendering process, but that residents could in the meantime look at putting in a community bid to draw down funding for a specified group of houses.
Firstly, we would like BT to put right the completely inexplicable anomaly of those properties tied into Swansea exchange, and switch them to Llanelli. Although everyone is angry and bitterly disappointed that better broadband was not delivered in 2017, and would much prefer automatic Welsh Government roll-out, residents are trying to be as positive and as constructive as possible.
So we used the meeting on Saturday to get information from Ed Hunt about the timescale of the next Welsh Government programme, and more detail about how a community can make their own bid for funding to provide better broadband in their area.
We will now be considering the pros and cons of this do-it-yourself option, as well as going out to neighbouring properties to share the information, and see if others would like to join in.