Isle villagers remain in slow lane for internet services

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Residents are unhappy with the quality of broadband on the Isle as they wait for the second phase of the Northern Lincs Broadband (NLBB) project, which will reach a further 4,000 households and businesses.

News was announced last week that due to savings achieved from the first project and new investments – a total of over £4 million – even more homes will be able to reap the many benefits of high-speed broadband by March 2017 – over 97 per cent of premises will have access.

The announcement came on the same day as Government has announced the nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now passed more than three million UK homes and businesses.

The rollout is on track to reach 95 per cent of the UK by 2017 and is now reaching around 5,000 additional premises every day.

But that does nothing to appease Lesley Pickersgill, of Sandtoft who struggles to run her freelance photography business from her home due to the shocking internet connection.

She said: “We cannot get broadband at all and likewise for a few others in the village of Sandtoft. I wrote to MP Andrew Percy at the beginning of the year and he informed me he was trying to do something about it as other people from the village had also approached him too.

“As you can appreciate being a photographer I need to upload large files, so at the moment we rely on the dongles. I have two on contract, an EE and a 3, the EE costs me £35 a month and the 3 costs me £18 and both have a GB limit so I also have a 3 pay as you go dongle too, and reception can be quite poor too.”

She said: “We also invested in a satellite broadband but again struggled with the reception and at £50 for 30GB it was too expensive to run when we weren’t getting a good service. We are living in an age where broadband is needed in every household and yet we are not getting it and there seems to be no plans for us either.

“My husband and sons are self employed and need access to the internet, I need access to the internet and our daughter too (Gemma-Paige, left). We are not the only household in the village with this issue and yet BT brag how they are rolling out fast internet to the towns and villages but realistically only for the ones with good revenue which seems extremely unfair when everyone should now be able to gain access to good internet.”

In a letter to Mrs Pickersgill, Mr Percy said: “The situation currently is that the Government has funded the roll-out of superfast broadband of 92.5 per cent of North Lincolnshire. This is the programme that is well under way and will be completed by next summer.

“As you point out, some villages such as Sandtoft are not included as there are technical or cost issues. In the case of Sandtoft, the issue is due to the distance from the exchange.

“For the 7.25 per cent of homes not covered, the Government has recently funded two schemes that should cover pretty much most of this remaining amount. The first is a project to deliver wireless broadband. This solution is due to start next year and the programme would develop the wireless broadband network of Quickline and will include the free installation of equipment in homes.

“The second scheme is a phase 2 of the current broadband roll-out. The Government has given North Lincs £1.18 million for this but it will need match funding. This would roll out fixed line broadband to these more difficult to reach communities and homes starting from next summer.

“It isn’t clear yet which of these projects will be delivered where but we should know more in the next few weeks.”