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Shame of our so-slow internet
9:20am Thursday 1st May 2014 in News
CRAWLING broadband connections in a Vale street are some of the slowest in the whole country, according to new figures.
Research by comparison site uSwitch.com shows the average download speed in Evesham Road in Norton, just outside Evesham, is the sixth slowest in the whole country at just 0.92mbps - almost 20 times slower than the national average.
Better broadband is a top priority for the county, with Worcestershire County Council developing a £20 million scheme to introduce super-fast internet across the area, which is expected to be completed by June 2016.
But local people say outdated connections are already “stifling” productivity in the area.
Chairman of Norton and Lenchwick Parish Council, Kathleen Leonard, says the lack of fit-for-purpose broadband is a real problem for the area.
“It is stifling productivity in the parish,” she said. “People could be doing a lot more business in the area.”
Cllr Leonard, who works from home, believes phone lines in the area also need improvements.
She said she had recently found herself forced to install a new phone line into her house so she did not have to travel to her company’s offices in Bristol every day.
“I was lucky because my company paid for that, but I feel bad for people living around here who can’t get a good connection,” she said.
Cllr Charles Homer, member for Harvington and Norton on Wychavon District Council, said slow internet speeds have long been an issue.
“People are struggling to run businesses or work from home," he said. “Evesham has some pretty good connection speeds and it’s a shame you can go five minutes down the road and see speeds go right down.”
A BT spokeswoman said they were “sceptical” of the uSwitch statistics. She said 73 per cent of homes and businesses in the UK can now connect to a 30mbps-plus service and that average speeds have jumped to 17.8mbps so there was "a lot to celebrate".
She added that the Evesham Road area is served by two exchanges – one of which has been upgraded, with the Harvington exchange earmarked for upgrade later this year.
Chris Brooks, regeneration manager at Wychavon District Council, said: "Broadband is the key to most successful businesses these days."
“We’ve been backing Worcestershire County Council’s bid for faster broadband and encouraging as many residents and businesses as possible to demand better broadband. Without this evidence it makes it harder to make faster broadband a reality.”
A county council spokesman said: "The council has identified broadband as one of the key areas which will enable the county to remain competitive and 'Open for Business'.
"We are aware of areas with poor speeds in Worcestershire and in August 2013, Worcestershire County Council signed a £20 million deal to bring superfast broadband to nearly 55,000 rural homes and businesses.
"This immense engineering task includes ambitious targets so that by June 2016, 90per cent of business premises in Worcestershire will have the ability to access high-speed fibre broadband, high-speed fibre broadband will be available to at least 90 per cent of Worcestershire residents and everyone in the county will have access to broadband speeds of at least 2mbps."
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