Internet prices could fall in rural areas around Warwickshire

VILLAGES across Warwickshire are likely to see their internet bills drop following an Ofcom ruling.

The communications regulator wants to reduce the wholesale price that BT – often the only operator in many rural areas - charges other internet providers for broadband connections.

Warwickshire County Council’s e-business adviser Leigh Hunt said: “Any reduction in cost of broadband has to be good.

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“It will mean villages might get two providers instead of one, which will make it more competitive, which is good for the consumer. In some areas of the county people are paying more than they should be.”

From mid August until March 2014, Ofcom has ruled that BT must cut its rates by 12 per cent below inflation per year.

In less populated areas, other internet service providers have to ‘rent’ the service from BT and pass on this extra costs to customers.

But bills are not the only problem for rural dwellers. Ms Hunt said: “Most of the villages – and some of the urban areas – in Warwickshire have issues around speed. Even Warwick Gates, which is a definite urban area, has some parts which do not have broadband.”

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Marton, near Long Itchington, recently won a BT competition to get ‘superfast’ broadband installed next year, which will also benefit surrounding villages including Birdingbury, Weston-under-Wetherley and Princethorpe. The village, which only has a population of 500, came in the top six communities voting in BT’s ‘Race to infinity’ comptition, where more than 360,000 votes were cast.

The village’s parish council chairman David Fry said: “Rural areas are missing out because of the simple economic fact that it’s much more expensive for a provider to get a payback from installing in rural areas compared to installing in urban areas.

“As the various media move forward, people in villages increasingly need to get information via the internet.

“We are very pleased that we are getting superfast broadband, but in reality, the speed we are getting is going to be 20 MB, whereas in Coventry there is already a speed of 100 MB.”

Click on the link to the top right to have your say about broadband in the county.