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Superfast? It’s more like superslow, say protesters
1:44pm Friday 27th September 2013 in News
RESIDENTS and businesses in West Malvern are still battling for their broadband almost two years after an upgraded ‘superfast’ service was set to be delivered.
Despite repeated promises from BT that its fibre-optic service will be delivered, people in West Malvern are still having to make do with sluggish speeds of one mbps or even less.
They were first told by BT to expect their superfast upgrade by Christmas 2012 but are still waiting more than 18 months later.
Your Malvern Gazette has campaigned for the speedy roll out of broadband across the district, as promised by BT. Businessman Paul Farrer, who lives in Westminster Bank, slammed BT’s ongoing failure to deliver on its promises as “shameful”.
He called the ongoing delay “a farce” and said: “In short, it would appear we have been completely forgotten about.” As previously reported, initial delays were caused by negotiations between BT and Malvern Hills Conservators about installing broadband cabinets on the charity’s land. But those negotiations were concluded last autumn.
In a bid to speed the process along, Mr Farrer met BT bosses in April and agreed with them that one of three cabinets needed in West Malvern could be located on his land. But there has been little progress and he is running out of patience.
“They managed to find a wayleave document for me to sign, but have now told me that they've just realised the cabinet will need to be powered by – get this – electricity. And as such I need to wait for a whole new load of documents to arrive so I can sign and give them permission for that,” he said.
“No cabinet has been installed and they can’t tell me when that will happen either.” He added: “What they did say is that because the cabinet is on private land, the process can take twice as long.”
One of the cabinets in West Malvern has been switched on within the last fortnight – bringing welcome relief for the Wyche Innovation Centre in Walwyn Road, where several high-tech firms have been struggling without superfast broadband.
Founder Adrian Burden said: “It is already making a big difference to the businesses here. It’s just a shame it couldn't have happened more quickly.”
It means that 43 of 47 cabinets earmarked for a superfast upgrade in Malvern are now up-and-running. However, BT is not offering a definitive date for having the two other cabinets in West Malvern switched on.
MP Harriett Baldwin is now planning to speak to BT on their behalf. She said: “It must be very frustrating. Fast broadband is important to the digital, creative and engineering business based in the area as well as hundreds of householders.”
BT spokesman Emma Tennant said work on the cabinet on Mr Farrer’s land was progressing well. “One of the wayleaves has been finalised, we’re just waiting for the one with the electricity company to come through,” she said. “Once that’s confirmed engineers will be able to complete the work."
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