11:27AM, Tuesday 20 November 2012
A real life 'computer battle' is being launched to bring superfast broadband to villages across the Royal Borough.
A county-wide Superfast Berkshire campaign to lobby communication firms to roll out high-speed connections for communication blackspots was launched yesterday.
The Royal Borough is now searching for 'superfast champions' to galvanise public support and convince the companies of the demand for the service.
It aims to find one from each of the 14 areas covered by a parish council.
The hope is internet providers would invest in the equipment upgrading needed to bring broadband to rural areas if given proof that there is enough demand for the service to make it worth their while.
An added incentive for providers is the allocation of £1.43m in Government funds to help offset any costs in bringing high-speed broadband to Berkshire.
The Royal Borough has also pledged £400,000.
Cllr Richard Kellaway, Royal Borough cabinet member for finance, said: "It is ridiculous that 12 years into the 21st century businesses are hampered by poor internet access or have none at all - just because they are located outside urban areas."
Cllr Christine Bateson, cabinet member for planning and partnerships, said the idea is to demonstrate demand to help kick-start the service providers into action.
"By registering support there is no obligation to sign up for superfast broadband when it is available," she added.
She said the aim was to make services available to 90 per cent of the borough by 2015.
All residents have to do is visit www.superfastberkshire.org.uk and register that they want superfast to be available. Or they can call 01635 503003.
A businessman who works from home in Fifield says his life is made a nightmare by the inability to get superfast broadband.
Rod Lord, 64, of Coningsby Lane, is a graphic designer and animator who provides high-definition images for oil companies.
He said: "I have to leave stuff running for hours overnight on my computer just to be able to upload my product to clients. Sometimes I have to send things by courier.
"Yet nearby in Windsor or Maidenhead any business competitor can have access to broadband."
Jason Hart, who runs Hart of Racing bookmakers in St Luke's Road, Old Windsor, said: "It is just not consistent. I used to have a real problem until a couple of months ago when BT finally came up with an answer for me."
Parish council chairman Cllr Jane Dawson said that some Old Windsor villagers had access to broadband, while neighbours living across the road did not.
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