Mercury Article: Good broadband increasingly important for local people

I saw a bus with a broadband ad on the side recently, saying “Great News: We’re Coming To Rip Up Your Road”.

It was pretty clever: the pandemic has meant we’re all using broadband far more, for everything from business meetings to keeping in touch with family and friends, weekly shopping, school lessons and college lectures, or simply binge-watching Netflix. And it’s  shone a spotlight on how much fast or slow broadband can matter. I’ve lost count of the number of local residents who’ve contacted me, tearing their hair out at pockets of snail-slow speeds in central Weston, Worle, Worlebury, Kewstoke, Wick St Lawrence and elsewhere. 

The good news is that a lot of our problems are already being solved by broadband firms like the one in the ad. I’ve spoken to most of them over the last 18 months and, broadly, every home and business in Weston ought to have superfast fibre broadband available outside their front door within the next few years. It’s absolutely brilliant news for the town’s future; we’ll be cutting-edge and ready for whatever the digital economy throws at us.

But what about people in the villages? Good broadband is just as important there, perhaps even more than in towns. Some of the same firms I’ve already spoken to will cover villages too, but for any rural homes or businesses that could be missed out there’s Government cash from ‘Connecting Devon & Somerset’ to fill the gaps. Work stopped a while back after one of their installers couldn’t deliver what they’d promised, but they’ve found a replacement and now they’re back on track. I’ve put a heatmap on my website if you want to check the coverage.

So we’ll all see a few more trenches being dug, but the results should make a real difference. I’ll keep everyone updated on progress!