Business hits snag over broadband link

In the age of the internet and messages pinging across the globe in the blink of an eye, running your own business should have never been easier. But a builder's attempts to set up a internet-based business in mid-Norfolk has exposed the rift between rural and urban access to the world wide web.

In the age of the internet and messages pinging across the globe in the blink of an eye, running your own business should have never been easier.

But a builder's attempts to set up a internet-based business in mid-Norfolk has exposed the rift between rural and urban access to the world wide web.

By now, Mike Hepke had hoped to have his fledgling online company, plusbreeds.com, up and running from his idyllic home outside Garvestone, near Dereham.

Around seven million people in the UK spend part of their working week at home and it's estimated that the figure will rise - helping to cut the country's C02 emissions from commuters.

But Mr Hepke is considering abandoning his dream of home working after a temperamental internet connection slowed his website development to a crawl.

He is frustrated that, despite promising him fast 1Mb access, his internet service provider BT Broadband has not managed to fix problem of dropped connections after six weeks.

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Mr Hepke says he may return to the traditional route and hire out a city office.

He said: "It just keeps dropping the connection every five minutes. We can just forget trying to get online to sort out the website.

"If I was in the city this would be mended immediately. The government may talk about rolling out broadband across the countryside and working from home is a lovely thing but some rural areas are still not ready.

"At the moment I wish I hired an office at the edge of the city, if the worse comes to the worse I might still have to.

"We have been on the phone every two days and BT have got every team imaginable working on it but they still don't seem to be able to sort it out.

"Now they have presented me with a bill for £251 for a service I haven't had and say I can't get any compensation until it's fixed but nobody can tell me when that will be."

His website will be an online certification site for cross-breed dogs which Mr Hepke hopes to broaden out to include a range of products for pets.

A spokesman for BT said: "There is nearly 100pc broadband coverage in the UK.

"In this case it seems as if the overhead cables have degraded and are fine for telephone calls but not broadband.

"We do apologise to the customer but this is quite a major job that will mean replacing 365 metres of overhead cables, as well as telephone poles."

He said that BT hoped to complete the work as soon as possible and was unaware that anyone else had been affected by the problem.