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South Norfolk
Norfolk MPs urge BT to hit broadband ‘not-spots’

BT street cabinet
Street Cabinets deliver broadband to
homes and businesses along copper
wires which are vulnerable to
interference.  Long lines, links between
telephone exchanges and the national
network and the quality of ISPs'
equipment can also cause 'not-spots'

NORFOLK MPs  met with representatives of BT in Norwich to hear about the company’s plans to stamp out broadband ‘not-spots’ – areas where an effective and affordable internet connection is not easily available – and increase the speed of broadband across the county.

Quizzed by South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, Mid-Norfolk MP Keith Simpson and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, BT’s Regional Director Peter McCarthy-Ward admitted that BT needed to do better in communicating the causes of ‘not-spots’, as well as potential solutions, to its customers.

However, Mr McCarthy-Ward also told the meeting that BT plans to upgrade the county’s 140 telephone exchanges over the next three years in order to accelerate Norfolk’s broadband from the current maximum of 8 megabits per second to a top speed of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2012. 

The three MPs were also shown BT’s broadband accelerator or ‘I-Plate’, which BT says will help around half of its customers to improve their broadband signal by screening out electrical interference.

Mr Bacon said today: “I am pleased that BT seems aware of the problems our constituents are facing and is keen to drive forward improvements to broadband access in Norfolk.  Developments like the I-Plate are good news and the planned upgrade of Norfolk’s exchanges should deliver broadband at speeds of up to 24Mbps across the county within three years.” 

“Time will tell how effective these plans will be and we must keep up the pressure on BT to make sure they see these improvements through.  Norfolk cannot be allowed to fall behind.” 

14 September 2009

Mr McCarthy-Ward told MPs that there are four main causes behind Norfolk’s ‘not-spots’.  Firstly, most of Norfolk’s 140 telephone exchanges are still connected to individual customers by copper wiring, which is vulnerable to electrical interference.  Secondly, customers at the end of long telephone lines can struggle to get a good connection because the electrical resistance of the copper wire weakens the broadband signal.  Thirdly, bottlenecks are being caused by under-investment in the links between local telephone exchanges and the national fibre-optic network  - the so-called ‘backhaul’ network – and, finally, the quality of server equipment being operated by some internet service providers (ISPs) means that some customers struggle to use new internet technologies such as the BBC’s i-Player service. 

BT’s Broadband Accelerator, or I-Plate is free to BT Broadband customers, or for 5.49 to customers with other networks. 

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