Cornish in Facebook grumble at BT’s broadband costs
It’s easier for politicians to attract brickbats than bouquets, and opening up on Facebook is sure to encourage the disaffected to have their say.
Independent Cornish councillor Andrew Wallis revealed recently that some residents are unhappy with the cost of Cornwall’s “superfast” broadband service. Supplied by BT, the service is now available through 52 exchanges, he posted.
“Despite what some may see as positive news for the county, the first five comments the post received (all within half an hour) were negative, with comments aimed almost exclusively at the cost of the service and how unaffordable this is for all but the well-off,” he wrote in a separate post about social media.
Cornwall is poor. Average annual earnings are 18% lower than the UK average (£20,982 vs £25,727 – 2009 figures). Almost 90% of businesses have fewer than 10 employees, and nearly a quarter have annual turnovers of under £50,000. Some 14.4% of workers are self-employed compared to the UK average of 9.1%. The council, with 22,500 staff, is by far the biggest employer.
BT’s “up to” 100Mbps Infinity service is currently £35/month plus line rental from £10.75, or about 3% of average monthly pre-tax income. The price of the entry level service puts it comfortably inside the UN Broadband Commission’s target of less than 5% of monthly income, but is Cornwall a developing nation?
There also appears to be some confusion at the council about what it is getting for the £132m contract it signed with BT.
Replying to Facebooker Sheena Trigg, a council spokesman says, “By the end of 2014, 80% of premises in Cornwall are expected to have access to optical fibre broadband…”
The council’s original statement says only 50% are expected to have access to a 100Mbps fibre to the premises (FTTP) service. So, was the Facebook reply simply an error or has something changed? Has BT suddenly found it possible to fibre-up 30% more premises for no extra money? Or has the council has found more money to chuck at BT?
We await the council’s reply.