Businesses in Midsomer Norton have expressed frustration at the fact that they cannot get superfast broadband because BT says they are located ‘too close’ to the telephone exchange.
Chamber member Simon Mills, managing director of Eyeplan, which has been in Midsomer Norton for 25 years, said his company received a “third world service” which is “hampering” its development.
Mr Mills said: “We are in the heart of the town centre so you would have thought we would get a good service but it is not the case.
“I have contacted BT on a number of occasions, even speaking to an area manager, but there has been a lack of willingness from BT to look into the issue any further and they have just told us it would not be possible to install a street cabinet which would solve the problem.”
Jon Plenty, of Scrivens opticians on High Street, is also a member of the town’s Chamber of Commerce and he said the business group agrees that the simple answer would be to install a street cabinet outside the exchange which would make super-fast broadband available to all.
Mr Plenty added: “It really is crucial for the future development and employment in the town.”
B&NES councillors and Midsomer Norton Town Council have called on BT to resolve the problem before businesses are lost in the town.
Councillor Chris Watt (Con, Midsomer Norton Redfield) said: “There is a certain irony in the fact that the very businesses which need to access super-fast broadband are not able to ‘because they are too close to the exchange’.
“When BT upgraded the exchanges they promised, with much fanfare, that this would deliver super-fast broadband to businesses and residents throughout our town. They now need to live up to this promise.
“Access to fast, reliable broadband internet is crucial to modern businesses and especially the high-tech and creative industries which we want to encourage more of in Midsomer Norton.”
A spokesman from BT said: “The Midsomer Norton exchange has been upgraded for super-fast broadband and many homes and businesses are already benefiting from the service. Unfortunately, there are a small number of lines in our network which are connected directly from the premises to the exchange without the need for a street cabinet in between.
“The technology is not yet available to upgrade these lines to super-fast broadband, but we do have a national project looking at this specific issue and are very hopeful that a solution will be found.
“We have always been clear in our communications that there may be instances where not everyone in an upgraded area will be able to receive fibre-optic broadband. Some customers have been offered an alternative product, BT Net. This would give the speeds required, but the costs are higher.”
The Chamber continues to fight for a solution to help local business.