Winchester businesses face communication crisis

Hampshire Chronicle: Business owners at Winnall’s trading estate say they have encountered issues with speed and reliability of their Internet service Business owners at Winnall’s trading estate say they have encountered issues with speed and reliability of their Internet service

WINNALL is at risk of “becoming an uncompetitive place” to do business after numerous traders reported a “shameful” broadband service.

Business owners at Winnall’s trading estate say they have encountered issues with speed and reliability of their Internet service.

A survey by Winnall-based Universal Technology reported two-thirds of the respondents dissatisfied with their connection.

Universal Technology’s managing-director, Andy Hall, said: “The poor quality of infrastructure is shameful.

“The residential estates nearby have had modern fibre-optic cable made available, but businesses here are still served by old-fashioned overhead copper wire connections. The result is that the service we get is slow, but even worse, it is terribly unreliable.”

Mr Hall said the situation has recently worsened as BT has suspended plans to install fibre-optic cables during the summer.

Martin White, director of Winchester-based business systems consultants Thinkers, said, “None of the businesses surveyed have particularly high Internet demands; they simply need to be able to communicate reliably with their customers and suppliers.

“The lack of reliability both disrupts their businesses and prevents them adopting modern Internet-based ‘cloud’ computing services. The net result is that Winnall is in danger of becoming an un-competitive place to locate a business.

“It is vital that Winchester City Council acts swiftly to ensure that this critical business infrastructure matter is addressed.”

BT was asked to comment on the claims about the poor service in Winnall.

In a statement it said: “The Winchester exchange, which started accepting orders in 2011, already provides fibre broadband access to more than 14,000 homes and businesses. BT’s fibre broadband roll-out in Hampshire is continuing and we will announce upgraded areas when they ‘go live’.

Hampshire County Council was one of the first local authorities in the country to sign a multi-million pound contract with BT, to provide fibre broadband access to more than 70,000 additional premises. This, together with BT’s commercial rollout, will make fibre broadband available to 90 per cent of the county by the end of 2015.”

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