BT urged to reverse broadband decision

Willie Rennie says the decision is 'short-sighted'. (Pic: Dave Scott)
Willie Rennie says the decision is 'short-sighted'. (Pic: Dave Scott)

North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie has criticised BT for failing to provide superfast broadband to a new Cupar housing development.

According to Mr Rennie, the Kingdom Housing estate currently being built in Pitscottie Road is being equipped with ‘old-fashioned’ copper wire instead of fibre.

He says that BT had given a pledge that all new developments comprising 30 or more houses would benefit from the superior technology – but the 49 new homes at Pitscottie Road will have to put up with slower speeds.

“I am astonished that BT have failed to meet their promise,” said Mr Rennie.

“To install old fashioned and slow copper cables is incredibly short sighted. I can just understand why it is difficult to install fibre to the premises for existing houses because of all the reworking that would be required but failure to fit the modern fibre cables into new homes just seems daft.

“We need an urgent explanation on what has gone wrong and what plans they have to deliver on their promise.

“Cupar and other communities may be seeing large housing developments in the coming years and it is important that they are fully enabled with the latest technology for superfast broadband. So BT need to explain what has gone wrong with Pitscottie Road and make a commitment to put it right.”

An Openreach spokesman said: “The Pitscottie Road development was registered with us in January 2016, so unfortunately it didn’t qualify for our offer to build Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) free for developments with 30 homes and more.

“At the time our threshold was 250 premises, but we have progressively lowered the requirement and, since November 2016, 30 has been the norm. Having said that, developers have always been able to work with us to install any technology they wish to for new homes and, given these properties aren’t expected to be occupied until next year, there’s still time for us to discuss all the options with the developer, so we’ll be speaking to them again this week.

“The technology currently planned for the site offers broadband at speeds of up to 80Mbps which is more than twice the UK average.”

The spokesman added:“We met with the planning and economic development teams at Fife Council earlier this week to discuss the benefits of FTTP for all new developments, including social housing.”