The broadband connection at the rural East Devon village of Talaton, used to be so poor that school children and university students couldn’t complete their homework at home, online shopping – let alone bidding on eBay – was virtually impossible, and the idea of being able to Skype family members living thousands of miles away was inconceivable.
But thanks to the bosses of Exeter Science Park who agreed to facilitate a superfast broadband project, despite a lengthy and complicated process and with negligible benefit to themselves, Talaton’s 400-odd residents have now arrived in the 21st century and are enjoying the joys of being connected to the internet in time for Christmas.
Like many rural communities across Devon, the village of Talaton suffered from frustratingly slow broadband connection speeds as low as 0.5Mgbs (the average UK household has a speed of 16.5Mgbs).
Around 18-months ago, the community, led by operation response fire officer Graham Rooms, took matters into its own hands. What ensued was a complex process almost as frustrating as their slow internet connections which ultimately involved the Science Park hosting the infrastructure needed to bring about superfast broadband in the village.
On behalf of the residents of Talaton, Mr Rooms, who took on the role as broadband champion, has thanked the decision makers at Exeter Science Park for their unwavering support.
“The management of Exeter Science Park have been supportive despite various difficult elements over several months,” he said. “They’ve been absolutely superb.
“Virtually all of Talaton’s residents, whatever age and whatever occupation, have been adversely affected by the lack of decent internet connection,” he continued.
“My daughter, who is studying business studies at Exeter College, has often been unable to complete her homework at home, instead having to stay late after college and go into the library on the weekends, which is hugely inconvenient and quite disruptive to her life and ours.
“We have residents who have family overseas who haven’t been able to Skype their loved ones.
“And several villagers have been trying, with difficulty, to run small businesses from home. They had to pick particular times of the day, such as early in the morning before the majority of residents woke up, when it was less busy, to go online.”
He continued: “One family in the village, including three sisters who are all at university, also had their lives disrupted immeasurably from the slow broadband; the sisters were unable to complete university assignments at home, having to go to the library in Honiton or Exeter instead.
“And we haven’t been able to enjoy simple pleasures, such as watching Netflix or online shopping because the sessions would time out. And we could forget trying to bid in the last few seconds on eBay – we had to bid several minutes before and hope it would go through!
“These simple, life-enhancing 21st century amenities were made impossible, so we can’t thank all those at Exeter Science Park who have made this possible, enough.”
Talaton is a community of around 150 households, which are now able to log on to the World Wide Web thanks to the Connecting Devon and Somerset broadband delivery programme.
Exeter Science Park executives graciously agreed to host the additional infrastructure, including a satellite dish on the roof, made sure all stakeholders were on board, signed the paperwork, and stuck with the project despite the going getting tough, so eventually its neighbours 10 miles away could finally enjoy all the benefits of broadband many people take for granted.
The new service has already transformed the lives of residents, the majority of which have been connected in time for them to do some online Christmas shopping. All properties are expected to be connected by Christmas.
Dr Sally Basker, Chief Executive Officer at Exeter Science Park, said: “It was an easy decision to support the delivery of superfast broadband to Talaton. The improved speed will immediately save time and improve day-to-day living, but in the longer term it will enhance productivity and improve the ability to compete in an increasingly digitised world. We’re so pleased that it’s going to be delivered in time for Christmas.”