Residents demand fairness on broadband

A broadband lifeline could soon be on its way to rural locations in Northumberland.

But some of the residents who attended a meeting about the project have criticised initial proposals to make them pay for installations, as they claim there would be no cost to businesses and entrepreneurs.

They have insisted that any system being introduced to provide faster internet speeds to areas not getting the fibre service from BT must be fair.

Their concerns will now be considered by the members of a broadband working group covering parts of Hebron, Longhirst, Tritlington and West Chevington and Widdrington Village.

Efforts to find a solution have been examined by the Druridge Bay Regeneration Partnership over the last two years and Gateshead-based telecoms provider Advantex has been appointed to deliver the project – a wireless technology system that uses a central mast and small transmitters.

Funding has been sourced from organisations such as UK Coal and the county council’s community chest scheme and the setting up of the initiative was discussed at the meeting in Longhirst Village Hall.

Maurice McCone, who lives in the West Chevington area, attended the meeting.

He said: “The best speed we can get at the moment is 0.6Mbps and so this system would be welcome, and I accept that getting businesses to sign up to access Government grants is a good way to meet the funding gap.

“But I was shocked when we were told it could cost £300 to £400 per residence to pay for the installation costs when businesses signing up will pay nothing. Families who need the faster speeds will struggle to afford this and so I hope the working group reconsiders this unfair proposal.”