Rural residents told they will face cost for fibre broadband header image

Residents of the village of Elberton in south Gloucestershire have been told that they will not be included in the rollout of superfast broadband in the region and will be required to pay extra to obtain fibre connections.

The area is not included in the South Gloucestershire Plan, which pledges to connect 94 per cent of local properties to fibre broadband by March 2016 and a spokesperson for BT told the Gazette newspaper that the distance between the village and the cabinet at Alveston is too large for a viable installation.

This is despite the fact BT plans to upgrade the local exchange at Thornbury some time within the next 12 months.

If Elberton is to benefit from fibre broadband, a new street cabinet will need to be set up in the village. This is expected to cost anything between £25,000 and £75,000 and residents would be required to foot the bill.

Fibre to the Cabinet broadband on the Openreach network advertises speeds of up to 80 Mbps. However, this is dependent on the distance between  the property and the cabinet. As a result, rural areas are generally excluded from superfast rollout proposals.

Residents in rural areas of Wales will soon be able to apply for grants of up to £1,000 per household to pay for new cabinets to be constructed, but this finance is not available in Gloucestershire.

Elberton resident Andrew Watkins has proposed a fundraising campaign, but is not optimistic the funds will be raised. 

"I’m going to suggest it but I don’t know what the response will be. I know from my experience trying to drum up support, people don’t want to put their hands in their pockets," he stated.

A viable alternative for those in rural areas is satellite broadband from Avonline. Because this utilises signals sent from satellites in space, the same speed and quality of service is experienced regardless of the property's location from a local exchange or cabinet.