The Government has now introduced the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) scheme , offering a grant of up to £3,400 per household to pay for connection to a superfast broadband service. Anyone without a consistent broadband speed of 10mbs or more or a monthly bill in excess of £46.10 is eligible to apply. This is designed to help residents in areas that cannot reliably access existing superfast broadband systems such as Airband and 4G. West Blackdown in Brentor is one such area and properties there have already registered for connection to a new fibre network that will be built with funding from the USO scheme. Residents in the village centre who cannot access a reliable Airband signal due to trees etc have also been able to register.
After an initial problem when residents were being asked to each contribute £45,857.20 to be connected, those residents in the West Blackdown area of Brentor who have already registered their interest in the USO are now being offered free connection to a new fibre network that will be built within 18 months! This is largely down to the efforts of these residents, who complained to our local MP, Ofcom, and even the Communications Ombudsman. The Parish Council also supported them in this issue and raised it with West Devon BC and Devon CC. Apparently BT has now discovered that there are enough properties in Brentor that qualify for a USO grant to cover the cost of building the new fibre network. This network will involve the installation of a new fibre optic cable across the moor from the Mary Tavy telephone exchange to Brentor. Previously we had been told that this was prohibitively expensive, but the USO grants have changed this situation.
Many residents in Mary Tavy and in hamlets further from the Mary Tavy digital exchange than Brentor, such as Horndon, are already being given free connection to superfast broadband with no extra cost on their bills.
To get a Universal Service Obligation grant you must register interest. To do this you should call 0800 783 0223 – the USO helpdesk. The staff you will speak to are very helpful and sympathetic and will just require your name, postcode and address, email address and telephone number and will talk to you about your current broadband connection. It is free to do and there is of course no obligation to take part in the scheme, even if you go as far as asking for a firm quotation of the cost.
Local residents have produced an advice sheet to help you with the USO registration process – click here to see it.
If anyone in Brentor has further information please contact the website Editor, Colin Dawes, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about how this issue has evolved in Brentor click here
You can check your broadband speed by clicking here. (Just click the button marked ‘Start Speed Test’ below the two dials).