Anger over ‘mix-up’ for broadband installation

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

Residents in an area of Northumberland are still waiting for a broadband upgrade despite a cabinet being installed more than a year ago, after being told that it was on the wrong side of the road.

The facility was put in place by Openreach, a division of BT, by the A1 just opposite the Causey Park Farm entrance as part of works under the iNorthumberland programme – a partnership between Northumberland County Council and BT – to bring superfast broadband to rural communities.

One of the residents affected is Maurice McCone, who lives in West Forest. His family has to cope with a broadband speed of less than 1mbps on average.

He has been in contact with people from BT and the county council.

Mr McCone said: “We were delighted to be told that the cabinet just opposite the Causey Park Farm entrance would be live by June 2017, however this did not happen.

“Later in 2017, we were told by a BT regional manager that it was decided to move the cabinet nearer to the power supply, but this would involve putting it on the other side of the A1.

“Then according to iNorthumberland after I contacted them, it was Openreach’s mistake and it was suggested raising the issue with the office of the CEO of Openreach.

“This office said we are part of a project to move to a new cabinet, the one that has been built, and the decision on where and when upgrades take place are made by iNorthumberland, with Openreach carrying out the work.

“So they referred us back to iNorthumberland and now the farcical circle is complete.

“It’s very frustrating and we’re extremely angry that this has yet to be resolved.

“Being told by Openreach to contact iNorthumberland and vice-versa shows that neither are taking responsibility for the mix-up.

“It’s not just us, a number of other people in the West Forest and Tritlington area are having to deal with slow broadband because we live so far away from the nearest part of the Felton exchange, hence the need for a new cabinet.

“We pay the full price for our broadband, irrespective of the speed, and it’s disgraceful that we’re still waiting to be upgraded from our current very slow speed.”

A spokesman for Openreach said: “We are sorry that it’s taking longer than planned to make superfast broadband available to people living in and around Causey Park.

“Getting power to the infrastructure that will provide fibre broadband to this community is proving more challenging than anticipated.

“The main issue is the nearby A1, with power cables needing to travel under or over the road.

“Either option requires specialist engineering work and careful planning.

“We’re 100 per cent committed to making it happen and we do understand why people living nearby are frustrated that it’s taking so long.

“The good news is that we’re confident we’ve found a solution, which will enable us, in partnership with iNorthumberland, to bring superfast broadband to this community within the next six months.

“Already across Northumberland, more than 93 per cent of homes and businesses have access to superfast broadband, thanks largely to Openreach’s own commercial roll-out and the work of the partnership.”