BROADBAND: Let down again

Superfast broadband fibre can pass through the eye of a needle
Superfast broadband fibre can pass through the eye of a needle

Four years ago, I and a fellow parish councillor from Newton on the Moor attended a meeting regarding the upgrading of the Shilbottle and Felton telephone exchanges to superfast broadband.

Funding was to be provided via Defra, but a successful bid was dependent on over 40 per cent of residents in each area signing up to take the service.

My colleague and I, plus villagers, spent many evenings distributing information not only in Newton on the Moor, but in Swarland, Felton and Shilbottle.

Leaflets provided by iNorthumberland were put through every door in the area, in many cases more than one visit was made and the residents were urged to support the bid.

In Newton on the Moor, more than 67 per cent of the village committed to the service and we were delighted when we were told that the upgrade would occur in 2014.

In the spring of 2014, the Shilbottle and Felton exchanges were enabled and the cabinets in each area began to benefit from higher speeds.

However, I have just been informed that the upgrade of the primary cabinet in Hampeth has been delayed because there is a lack of a nearby electrical supply and as Newton on the Moor is a secondary cabinet supplied from this point, we will not get upgraded at all.

It appears it was never the intention to include the Newton on the Moor area, as secondary cabinets were never included in the plan and the earliest we can expect any upgrade will be in 2017.

So a village that has been cut off from transport because of the withdrawal of the county grant is going to be isolated from the internet.

To make matters worse my own speed has dropped since the other areas are enabled and in some cases it is impossible to get onto the internet because the service is not available.

As a result I do not appreciate the nonstop letters from BT asking me to switch to their service and enjoy free BT Sport.

When I inquired if there was any way we could get the installation earlier I was told to find a rich benefactor to pay and BT would have the installation completed in six months. Thanks BT, thanks county, we have been let down once again!

David Rixon,

Newton on the Moor