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Norwich businesses left frustrated by claims broadband is better than in London or Birmingham

10:03 17 September 2014

Alex Morris, of Lambda Films

Alex Morris, of Lambda Films

Archant

Innovative businesses in Norwich have dismissed claims the city has better superfast broadband coverage than both London and Birmingham, as they continue to struggle working with slow speeds.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.  Photo: Steve AdamsNorwich North MP Chloe Smith. Photo: Steve Adams

Following a demand for action by businesses in the EDP, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith called a meeting to discuss the problem of urban broadband with BT, Norwich City Council, Norfolk County Council, the LEP and Norwich University of the Arts.

She was told by the telecoms giant that it was the take up of superfast broadband that was the problem, not the coverage.

“BT tells me that Norwich has better coverage by superfast broadband than do London or Birmingham, but that our take up is low, at 12pc of possible premises utilising the superfast broadband that is available,” said Ms Smith.

But some of the EDP Future 50 companies, which are demanding Norwich is no longer left in the slow lane, say they are not able to access the superfast service.

Alex Morris, pictured, corporate director of Lambda Films in St Giles House, said BT’s claim was “farcical”.

The company is experiencing upload speeds 40 times slower than in their previous serviced offices just outside the city centre.

“BT have come in and tried to flog us a lease line for £500 or £600 a month - that was their last offer on a three-year contract,” said Mr Morris. “That’s too much for a business of seven people.”

He said other businesses in the building were now using Virgin Business for their broadband and he was looking at leaving his current contract, which runs for another three months, to do the same.

“We are still in the situation where staff go home and upload from there because it’s faster than it is in the office,” he said. “It took 12 hours to upload a video the other day.”

Lambda Films works in corporate and promotional videos, event coverage, motion graphics and animations and video marketing.

The company moved to St Giles’ House two and a half years ago and was told fibre optic broadband would be available to them within a couple of months.

Mr Morris said that date has been moved back five or six times and they are now being told they will have the broadband they need by December.

Aimee Konieczny, central service manager for Cornwall Energy, based in Millennium Plain, Norwich, said: “We know that we can pay for a hosted line to improve our speed, but it is an extortionate amount of money - and something that we cannot afford.

“However, it is something we have considered, but we do not know when BT might upgrade the exchanges, and why we would pay for it if they will then install it for free.”

She added: “BT have tried several times to connect us to the exchange near the train station because the one close to our offices has not got superfast broadband.”

A spokesman for BT said: “Nobody has done more than BT to improve broadband across Norwich, as a result of a multi-million pound investment in the city. BT has upgraded all five exchanges in the city, which it has already made fibre broadband to more than 70,000 Norwich premises on an open basis from a wide variety of different providers.

“Take up of the service is lower than expected across Norwich. We encourage residents and businesses to check via the Openreach and Better Broadband for Norfolk respective websites to see if service is available. If it is, then it is your responsibility to contact your service provider. Upgrade to fibre service does not automatically happen, which is where some of the confusion may have arisen.”

Andrea Wake, operations manager at Future 50 company FXHOME, said connecting Norfolk businesses to superfast broadband was being treated as “an afterthought”.

“Affordable, superfast broadband is absolutely critical for any business wanting to compete globally,” she said.

“For us, it is as important as having an office. Without it, we simply can’t keep pace with our international competitors or achieve our goals.”

Sarah Steed, business director at Norwich University of the Arts said: “When asked what was the most important feature we could incorporate in the NUA Incubator for Digital Creative Business, 87pc of respondents said fast broadband connection. More than anything, this is the deciding factor in where they begin their business lives.”

Ms Smith vowed that if businesses in the city had continued problems accessing the broadband they needed, she would take their cases up with BT and other authorities involved in the meeting.

“I have their commitment to look into such problems,” she said.

“Inadequate broadband for our city would not be good enough, when we are competing internationally with other cities for investment and jobs in specialist sectors and we have the opportunity now to get it right.”

Are you a Norwich business affected by broadband speeds? Email reporter Catherine Morris-Gretton at catherine.morris-gretton@archant.co.uk

16 comments

  • Sorry Gerg but on this occasion you're 100% wrong, as anyone else at my address will confirm. The Postcode is NR29 5NX. Try it! You can get a BT line, but only BT services. I guarantee it.

    Report this comment

    Nick South

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

  • When I signed up with my provider 3 years ago I bought " up to 24 mb" of course I only ever got half that amount. Now they have the capability they expect me to pay extra for it. All I want is 24 meg at the agreed price!. These providers are greedy and inefficient and it is time OFCOM stepped in and sorted them out.

    Report this comment

    Union Jack

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

  • Nick, sorry I beg to differ - I have two phone lines supplied & billed by BT, one has Broadband supplied by Demon Internet, the other by PlusNet. BT wont tell you that - but they dont have the monopoly people think they have.

    Report this comment

    Gerg

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

  • 1st World problems, hey.

    Report this comment

    Whiley Boy

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

  • Oh another Picture of Archants in the Bed Woman called Chloe Smith. I wish I had Ultra Slow Broadband, so it took so long to load her picture, I would get bored and look at another website, where she wouldn't even see the light of day.

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Gerg....with respect, you can't use anyone other than BT here. No other company will pay to be able to use the BT line. Fact! I'm presuming the density of potential customers here means it isn't worth them doing so. I can guarantee you cannot use any other company other than BT here...so much for competition.

    Report this comment

    Nick South

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • When I lived in Dereham I upgraded from AOL to BT Infinity, which ended up costing twice as much and gave me zero improvement. Recently moved into North Norwich and decided to buy myself out of my BT contract and joined up with Virgin .... hey presto, fast fibreoptic broadband that actually delivers what it promises. I think half the problem lies in peoples outdated obsession with BT - there are new ISPs on the block. Not necessarily all cheaper but a whole lot better and in this life you get what you pay for.

    Report this comment

    Lucioperca

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • @Nick South, you can get alternatives other than BT - that use your BT line. Have a look at Plusnet (actually BT in disguise, but far easier to deal with) or talktalk, demon internet etc etc...

    Report this comment

    Gerg

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Regardless of whether you pay for a residential or business ADSL service in Hickling, the exchange is only capable of up to 8mb. In order to work at home & have reliable access for the family i have had to have a second line installed - at a premium price no less as its a Tier 1 exchange! Come on BBFN we need to see some activity please.

    Report this comment

    Gerg

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Oh forgot to add doesn't the film company, realise abut contention ratios, which will be higher in a City Centre than they would have been outside of the City Centre. And remember the phrase used for all Broadband speeds UPTO !!!

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Wouldn't surprise me if some of the Businesses are using a Domestic Broadband Package rather than a Business one, just to save money. Businesses regardless of size if you want to upload large amounts of Data, then simply pay for a premium product, end of boring story. NEXT !!!

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Never had a problem with my broadband. We got 50mbs when we lived in the city centre and now get 100mbs on Cromer Road. Even the mother now has 14Mbs download speed from BT in the village North of the airport. It seems some people are more Clueless than they accuse the MPs of being.

    Report this comment

    Piranha24

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Yet again, it's BT. They are utterly useless, continue to behave as a monopoly, provide a dreadful service, and strangle other ISPs by high access charges and other methods. All the time they do this, they somehow manage to persuade dim MPs (often with little sweeteners like prime tickets to the 2012 London Olympics) that they are the best. Besides, who in heaven's name wants to do business with a company that has hiked its charges several % over inflation, and charges you a fee on top just for the privilege of paying their extortionate bills?

    Report this comment

    T Doff

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • Try running a business where I am and getting broadband! I am in Ludham bridge with a small business and wish to trade more online. The only option is to pay through the nose for BT, no other company offers a line here. The speed is barely faster than a dial up. I live on a boat in norwich and already have BT there, and the speed is three or four times faster on my boat than I can get here. It's proving to be a real problem, and I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by this stone age service.

    Report this comment

    Nick South

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • I would compare the broadband system in Norfolk as being very similar to two cocoa tins joined with a piece of string. Norfolk broadband needs to actually work fast otherwise we WILL be left behind ! Nothing new there then!

    Report this comment

    Stop Press

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

  • We do have inadequate broadband in the area and it should be addressed, it doesn't just affect businesses it affects everyone, what the hopeless Chloe Smith plans to do about it and why there is a picture of her in the article is anyones guess.

    Report this comment

    mr mayhem

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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