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Villagers revolt over BT chairman's broadband

Gets preferential treatment from own company shock

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BT chairman Sir Mike Rake has reportedly upset some of his neighbours in the Oxfordshire village of Hambleden, because he's got broadband and they haven't.

The locals have been waiting for service for five years, The Telegraph reports. Meanwhile, Sir Mike moved in about a year ago, and is already enjoying broadband thanks to his participation in BT's trial of Broadband Enabling technology (BET).

Openreach began a limited trial of BET, which it estimates costs about £3,000 per line, in May. The system is BT's version of SHDSL, a technology that uses different frequencies to normal ADSL to deliver broadband over longer distances.

BT claims BET will run a stable 1Mbit/s at distances of up to 12km from the exchange and is pitching for subsidies to install it in rural broadband "not spots".

Hambledenizen Gary Ashworth, who runs a recruitment firm, is reportedly unhappy that Sir Mike is participating in the trial.

"I think it stinks of corruption. The chairman of BT is given preferential treatment over long-serving customers," he said.

"I run a business and we probably have 1,000 BT lines. Clearly there is preferential treatment if you happen to be the chairman. I think it is a disgrace."

BT said there was nothing unusual about one of its staff trialling a new product.

Local Tory MP Paul Goodman said: "Unless all BT staff members are entitled to participate in the trial on exactly the same terms, I think some of my constituents will find this very strange."

Hmm. Would it be strange if the chairman of a giant telecoms firm was able to get broadband from his own firm thanks to preferential treatment? Not really.

Meanwhile, it's relevant to note that Goodman's party plans to scrap a large subsidy for rural broadband in the form of the £6-per-year levy proposed by the government for all landlines. It would go into a pot to pay for fibre rollout in the countryside, but shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said earlier this month he favoured letting market forces dictate investment. ®

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