The Parish Council is concerned that superfast broadband may not confer upon Withiel the benefits it is bringing to other parts of Cornwall and has been attempting to clarify the situation faced by the Parish. With help from our new County Councillor, Chris Batters, the council has staked its claim to early consideration for whatever fast broadband system turns out to be available to it.

There’s no doubt that Superfast Cornwall, the company charged with rolling out fibreoptic  broadband across the county, has a lot on its plate and up to now has been concentrating on carrying the service to those parts of the county which can most easily be enabled. Troublesome areas like Withiel have slipped down the queue, and it’s important that we keep the pressure on to ensure we’re not forgotten. Superfast Cornwall has now cabled up around 75 percent of the county by population, and plans to have 95 percent of Cornwall enabled by the end of 2014. We must absolutely ensure that Withiel, or parts of Withiel, are not stuck in the five per cent that get left behind.

Fast, efficient broadband is no longer a luxury; it is absolutely essential to modern life. Many services are now only available online. Farmers must now access cattle passport data online and are uniquely disadvantaged when current ADSL broadband technology leaves them with download speeds of 0.4 mps and uploads of 0.3 mps, as is commonly the case in Withiel. Businesses here are at a serious competitive disadvantage because of slow broadband.

Thanks to Chris Batters and Dan Rogerson MP we have been able to put Withiel’s case at a high level to Superfast Cornwall, and although we have no definitive news yet on the parish’s fate, we know that at least we’re on their radar. Their Project Manager David Callaghan has told us:

“I have checked some addresses in Withiel and from what I can see many lines are connected to a roadside cabinet that has not yet been upgraded to superfast broadband. This can be for a number of different reasons and can include area demand, planning issues, power supply issues and other technical factors, such as the cabinet carrying a high proportion of long lines.

The roadside cabinet that Withiel appears to be connected to is Lanivet, Cabinet Three. This cabinet is down to be upgraded towards the end of this year or the beginning of next year. However, please also note that each address is subject to survey and the type of technology deployed in an area may also be subject to change. Furthermore, it is worth pointing out at this point that distance from the cabinet (about 2km) may not provide as much of an uplift in speed as other areas of Cornwall because of the marginal gains, the further you get from cabinet.

I’m sure you realise that an engineering project of this magnitude can’t happen overnight – it will take over three years to bring superfast broadband to all of the 250,000 premises across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.  I’m sure that everyone in Withiel is desperate to get Superfast Broadband, especially as more of the county is becoming enabled, but we are not done yet with the program and are trying to cover as much of the county as possible.

We will provide you with additional updates and information as soon as they become available.”

There are a number of back-up plans for places that are too far off the beaten path to qualify for superfast broadband, including router-style area networks and subsidised satellite systems. Ironically, one of the world’s more important fibreoptic cables, which connects London and New York, runs under our parish. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tap into it.

Updates as and when.

Pat Malone



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