A TRIAL to deliver vastly-improved broadband speeds has been criticised by some homeowners in Basingstoke.
Media giant Sky and its supplier Love Digital have started a 12-month trial in streets either side of Hackwood Road by building its own fibre-optic broadband network.
They believe that by using telegraph poles to bring cables directly to residents’ homes, this could deliver download speeds of up to 950Mbps. The current top download speed in the UK is 152Mbps, from Virgin Media.
The poles would reduce the need to use copper cables between the exchange and people’s homes, increasing download speeds.
But some homeowners believe the telegraph poles are unsightly, with someone posting a notice on one in Camberry Close saying the poles will be “transformed into nineteenth century landscapes with overhead cables and wires”.
Councillor Brian Gurden, Liberal Democrat member for Basingstoke South East at Hampshire County Council, has received more than 20 letters from residents complaining about the telegraph poles.
He said: “The Camrose estate has some old-style telephone poles that we would rather get rid of because, as someone said, it makes it look like a third-world country.
“They should not be putting this trial in here. They should be seeking to reach other parts of the country, the rural areas, that are hard to reach.”
The 12-month trial, which has been backed by Hampshire County Council leader Cllr Roy Perry, involves some 120 homes in streets including Camberry Close, Camrose Way, Chesterfield Way and Westfield Road.
Some residents told The Gazette that they were not told by Sky that the trial would involve the erection of the telegraph poles.
Lee Douthwaite, 48, of Camberry Close, said: “I bought this house seven years ago and all the infrastructure was underground. This is an old way of delivering infrastructure. They are going backwards.”
Jeff Howson, 56, also of Camberry Close, said: “I think it’s a bit naff really. It’s a bit much if you live in a house with a new telegraph pole in front.”
In a statement, Sky said it was “sorry to hear a small number of Basingstoke expressed concerns” about the trial.
It continued: “We are trialling potential technologies which will enable us to deliver better quality and value broadband.
“Throughout these trials, we are working hard to minimise any disruption to residents, and we are pleased with feedback we have received from triallists to date.”