For the duration of our project we have been consulting Jeremy Hunt MP. Originally as then Minister for Culture Media and Sport he had championed the roll out of Superfast Broadband for all. He has maintained his interest in the progress across Surrey and has been kept abreast of the GU8 Superfast Community Project – we understand he and BT MD Bill Murphy discuss our project when they meet periodically. Beyond the reach of our project residents across Surrey have been pressing Jeremy for a solution to the huge number of “have nots” in rural Surrey. Here is the most recent letter from Jeremy sent to residents that have previously written to him. It should be read in conjunction with our post on the Surrey CC OMR.
Sent: 19 January 2016 13:04
Subject: From Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP – Broadband Update in South West Surrey
Further to my email to you at the end of last year, I said I would write again following my meeting with BT Openreach.
We had a very productive and positive meeting earlier this month with all the key players including: Joe Garner, CEO Openreach, Kim Mears Managing Director, Infrastructure Delivery, Chris Townsend, Chief Exec BDUK, Andrew Field, Superfast Broadband Programme Director, Bill Murphy, Managing Director of BT, Next Generation Access, Tim O’Sullivan, Whitehall Relations, BT Group; Director of Public Affairs, Peter Martin, Deputy Leader Surrey County Council, Trevor Pugh, Strategic Director of Environment and Infrastructure and from my team in Hindhead, Morwenna Brown and Richard Nelson.
The meeting began with some interesting statistics and discussion on where things stand in Surrey. 95% of all South West Surrey residents now receive download speeds of 15Mbs or more. This leaves an estimated 20,000 premises left to do in the whole of Surrey. The next step is for Surrey County Council (SCC) to re-map the county extending to all the properties that need to be upgraded. Following the outcome of BDUK’s discussion with the European Commission, SCC can then complete the market review and determine what additional deployment can be undertaken within the constraints of available funding.
In Surrey, we have a higher percentage of homes with Superfast Broadband that any other county in the UK. My aim and that of my colleagues at the meeting was to get local residents even better coverage with Surrey aiming to be at 97% by 2018. I am pushing BT Openreach hard to make Surrey the ‘Never Say No’ to superfast broadband county so that even those in the final 3% will have options for a connection.
In the case of those of you who have taken the time to write to me and make me aware of your particular situation, I have passed each and every one of your details on to BT Openreach who continue to roll out new connections all the time. I have been assured by BT that they will update me on any progress on your area.
As you know the challenge is that villages and communities in South West Surrey – particularly those of us in more rural spots – are not necessarily a priority for BT from a commercial standpoint. I know many of you are talking with neighbours, working together and sharing concerns and thoughts regarding broadband issues. This is a sensible approach and I actively encourage you to join forces in your communities as sometimes there will need to be a community partnership with BT Openreach to solve the problem.
My objective is to make sure that everyone unable to receive superfast broadband is told in the coming months how they can access it. I do not yet have a commitment from BT or Surrey as to when they will have this information, but my sense is that it will be within a few months.
BT Openreach will be launching its new website in the next few days with added functionality and data on different areas – I encourage you to take a look and continue to put pressure on your service provider. They are continuously monitoring areas in Surrey and my team here in Hindhead will remain in regular contact with Surrey County Council and BT and will pass on any information on developments.
Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP
Member of Parliament for South West Surrey