‘Not spot’ villagers in Lyng join broadband crusade

Community activists in a notorious Norfolk 'not-spot' are taking the campaign for better broadband to their neighbours' doorsteps in a bid to secure a fibre-optic upgrade.

The village of Lyng is too distant from the nearest exchange at Reepham to get a decent service over its out-dated copper cable connections, with many users saying they can barely access the internet at all.

An action group has been formed, which has taken on the responsibility of driving up the sign-up figures for the EDP-backed Say Yes to Better Broadband campaign, which aims to prove the commercial demand for superfast speeds.

Official registration forms from the project team at Norfolk County Council have been delivered through 430 letterboxes via the monthly village newsletter.

Local clubs and societies have also been contacted to encourage their members to join the campaign, while forms have also been made available from the village shop and the local pub, the Fox and Hounds.

It is hoped the village's do-it-yourself attitude will act as a 'shining beacon' to other communities to act as advocates for the project.

Paddy McHugh, a retired Leicestershire police superintendent who now lives on Easthaugh Road in the village, is a spokesman for the Lyng Broadband Action Group.

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He said: 'The broadband here can best be described as patchy, going from poor to non-existent. I understand the national average is around 6Mbps (megabits per second) but in Lyng you are doing well if you get 0.2Mbps.

'It is a lovely village and a fabulous location in the Wensum valley, but it is just too far away from the Reepham exchange.

'We have got these massive long-line problems with the copper wire and that is where our problems begin and end. It needs replacing with fibre and we see this project as the key to getting it done.'

'We are aware that at some stage the county council team will produce a map showing the demand, and we want Lyng to be like a shining beacon of demand within those villages. This is our chance to get something done about this intractable problem.'

Another group member is Richard Woods, a former journalist who spent ten years working in the IT industry in Cambridge, and now lives on The Street in Lyng.

'We have come to the point where the population has accepted the need for better broadband,' he said. 'The problem has always been that the UK's infrastructure is still very early 20th-century and is quite incapable of meeting those needs, so we need this major thrust to deliver those services in rural areas.

'I think this should be an example to everybody. It is not that difficult. You just grab hold of a load of forms and put them in your magazine, or on seats at your meetings. It is a win/win for any village who can put their backs into it.'

nThe Better Broadband for Norfolk project hopes to bring superfast 30Mbps download speeds to as much of the county as possible by 2015. The Say Yes campaign aims to prove the commercial demand which will tempt private investment in the scheme. Norfolk residents and businesses can sign up at www.norfolk.gov.uk/sayyesnorfolk, or by calling 0344 800 8023.

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