'A little outside my price range': Rural Shropshire resident quoted £157,000 for improved internet connection

A Shropshire resident has been left stunned by BT’s offer to supply him with faster broadband – for £157,000.

Dave Driscoll from Mardu near Clun, was left staggered when he was quoted £157,000 for an improved internet connection
Dave Driscoll from Mardu near Clun, was left staggered when he was quoted £157,000 for an improved internet connection

Dave Driscoll, 63, who lives at Mardu, near Clun, had contacted BT to ask for a quote on an improved internet connection but was left staggered when the Openreach costs were revealed.

He had made the request after seeing government grants of £3,400 were available to cover the costs of the work.

The quotation is part of the ‘Universal Service Obligation’ (USO) which means BT has to provide a quote on an improved connection if a person cannot access 10Mbps download speed and an upload speed of 1Mbps.

Coming in at £157,000, Mr Driscoll said the work was “a little outside" his price range.

Currently Mr Driscoll, who is a senior partner in an education consultancy, has a connection that provides around 3Mbps download, hugely restricting what he can and cannot do.

He said the connection had slowed down in recent years, owing to the amount of people using it, and that downloading documents was a lengthy process, while streaming TV was a frustrating experience.

He said: “With streaming we can try. Some nights it is okay, other nights it is a non-starter. Some nights you get halfway through a programme and it breaks down and that’s it.”

The connection offered by Openreach would increase the service to speeds of 900Mbps.

Mr Driscoll said that a number of neighbours had also been quoted on the work, and had received different prices.

He said: “They actually quoted several people up and down the lane and quoted them several different prices. My immediate neighbour was quoted £50,000 despite being further away from the junction than me.

Breakdown of costs

“Several other people were told they could not quote for them because they needed quotes from other companies first.”

BT has provided Mr Driscoll with a breakdown of the costs.

It says 47 per cent is down to “the amount of cabling needed”, 42 per cent comes from the need for civil engineering work, and that creating a network for the 12 properties in the area would account for 11 per cent of the cost.

Mr Driscoll said: “Basically they want me to pay for the cables, then to get them fitted, and then to charge me for using them.”

He added: “We had the electricity upgraded, no one charged me for the transformer or the cables for that.”

On that occasion the company said it would look at the situation “and try to find a solution”.

The issue of quotations for internet connections for rural properties has sparked Ofcom to launch a national investigation into pricing.

Speaking last month, an Ofcom spokesman said: “The broadband universal service is a vital safety net that gives everyone the right to request a decent broadband connection.

“And while properties in very remote locations will clearly be more expensive to connect, we’re concerned about how BT is calculating some of the quotes for people making connection requests – particularly those where costs could be split across a number of homes in an area.”

A BT spokesman said: “We’re sorry for the disappointment the quote has caused Mr Driscoll. Although the USO scheme will deliver for the vast majority of those without decent connectivity today, it hasn’t been designed to overcome the challenges of connecting the most difficult places.

“We understand the frustration of those in hard to reach areas like Mr Driscoll, and we’re committed to working with Government to find solutions to connect those living in the most remote areas. Options could include alternative technologies, such as satellite (including exploration of the potential role of OneWeb) as well as clarity on the Government’s £5bn funding for rural full fibre.”

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