Jumping the queue for BT Broadband is possible, it would seem. Possible, but not easy - unless you happen to be the Chairman of BT that is.
Imagine you've been living without broadband for years because BT cannot supply it to your rural residence. Now imagine if the chairman of BT moves to your village, and you discover that he is actually getting a broadband service - from BT. Oh what a PR disaster that would be.
Imagine no more, that's exactly what has happened in Hambleden, Oxfordshire. Sir Michael Rake arrived in the village, one of the 'broadband not-spots' which BT says it cannot yet provide a service to, about a year ago. Villagers have been trying to persuade BT to move them into the broadband age for five years or more now, all to no avail. One was even told that if he wanted BT to run a broadband pipe directly to his house as a special service it would cost him £68,000. Of course, his name was not Sir Michael Rake.
A recent report suggested that some 7.5 million UK broadband users are disappointed with the service they get. The villagers of Hambleden are bloody furious, it would seem. The well connected (every pun intended) newcomer to the village appears to be getting special treatment from the company he runs and has been placed on a very limited Broadband Enabling Technology (BET) trial which provides him with a broadband feed of up to 2Mbps if two bonded lines are used.
OK, let's sit back a little and think this over. Of course you would expect the chairman of the board to get a place on the 'very small pilot scheme' being run by BT, not least as the company tends to try these things out with staff first of all before extending the trials to customers once initial bugs have been ironed out. However, the fact that Sir Michael is so new to the village, and other residents and local businesses have been campaigning for broadband access for years, might have given BT some food for thought before pressing ahead.
Would it have been too difficult to avoid a PR disaster, and this is set to become nothing less, by agreeing to extend the trial to the entire village? Either that, or explain to Sir Michael that it might be better if he waits a bit like everyone else.
A BT spokesperson told The Telegraph "BT has learnt a lot through the trial the chairman participated in and hopefully those lessons will benefit the residents of Hambleden in due course".
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