“Welcome to the land that time forgot.” I remember that was how I was greeted on my first visit to one of our more remote outposts after being elected eleven years ago. Even now it is easy to understand the sentiment as residents complain about being isolated from the sort of reliable and fast broadband connection which people in other parts of Barnsley take for granted. Indeed poor connection remains a problem for isolated communities in the Penistone Area with the more sparsely populated parishes being particularly badly affected. A problem compounded by limited mobile coverage although some people are now reporting better 4G connection following work on various masts.
The roll-out of fast broadband and connecting remote settlements is now the responsibility of Super Fast South Yorkshire, a partnership between BT and the four local authorities. This replaced the ill-fated Digital Region project which some readers may remember and which was likened to the R101 Airship or the Tanganyika Groundnut Scheme as an example of a failed public sector project. The latter was authorised in 1946 and was a plan to cultivate peanuts in what is now Tanzania as a source of vegetable oil. From the outset there were a number of challenges, not least that the plants require an annual rainfall of around twenty inches but the chosen area is subject to drought! The ill-fated project was finally cancelled in 1951 after £49 million had been wasted and around 150,000 acres of land turned into a dust bowl.
The basic aim of SFSY is to provide Fibre to the Cabinet, (FTTC), which will improve speeds to premises by reducing the length of copper cable in the connection and thereby reducing the signal attenuation. The roll-out is in twelve phases expected to be complete by the end of 2019.
There are a number of ways to check the progress towards connection of your own premises, follow the link below and enter your Postcode:-
Some residents may be able to benefit from the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme if their premises meet specific criteria:-
- Not currently able to access a broadband download speed of at least 2Mbps
- There are no alternative affordable broadband services available, which would provide a download speed of at least 2Mbps
- There are no plans to provide superfast broadband to the location within 12 months of your application.
For further details and to check if this solution is available to you, go to:-
Slowly, painfully slowly, progress is being made and readers should not give up hope of being connected to the modern world – eventually. In the meantime I can assure readers that the Penistone Area Council will not be supporting any schemes to grow groundnuts.
First published in the Barnsley Chronicle - Penistone Living September 2017