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Cheshire villagers left behind as celebrity neighbours get superfast broadband

Monday, July 28th 2014 by Hannah Langston

Cheshire villagers are calling for faster internet speeds, after discovering a neighbouring housing estate is being upgraded to superfast broadband.

Residents of the exclusive Wychwood Park development, reportedly home to TV presenter Jeremy Kyle and darts champion Phil Taylor, already receive speeds of 4-5Mbps. However, those in St Clements Row in Chorlton, just 100m away, have only ever been able to get 0.5Mbps.

“We can’t get any broadband at all through a landline. Sky were able to deliver 0.5Mbps at the most but only for a short period of time,” Chorlton resident Keith Beale told Cable.co.uk.

Mr Beale and the majority of other residents currently use mobile broadband dongles to get online but say this is “uneconomical”.

“I can’t use BBC iPlayer or Netflix – it works for a short period but then I’ll go over my allowance,” he told us.

“We’re on the edge of the transmitter range and can only get outside coverage. When the weather’s bad we don’t get anything. We have two residents with their own businesses, one has paid for a satellite connection for the last two years but it costs a fortune.”

Next month Wychwood Park will be upgraded to superfast broadband by Connecting Cheshire – a partnership between BT and several local councils to deliver speeds of 24Mbps and above to 96% of the region by 2017.

A Connecting Cheshire spokesperson told us, “Unfortunately, the low broadband speeds in the St Clement’s Court area are caused by the significant distance between the premises and telephone infrastructure, typically cabinets and the telephone exchange.

“Existing technology can’t overcome these issues. New technology would be needed to solve this problem using the existing infrastructure.”

According to BT, St Clement’s Court is not part of the £28.5m Connecting Cheshire programme and instead falls under BT’s commercial remit. Wychwood Park is connected to the nearby Betley exchange whereas St Clements Row gets its broadband from the Haslington exchange two miles away.

“Unfortunately the distance from the nearest streetside cabinet to local residents’ homes within these postcodes is too long to deliver a minimum 2Mbps broadband service,” they told us.

“Openreach is busy exploring new technologies which could help deliver faster speeds to the affected properties in the future”.

BT added, “Chorlton’s proximity to Wychwood Park – which is connected to an entirely different telephone exchange - doesn’t affect the issues the area faces in any way”.

Mr Beale said residents were told the row of houses would have broadband when they were built in 2006: “It wasn’t a big deal when we moved in but now if you haven’t got it you’re at a significant disadvantage. Broadband is becoming more and more integral to daily life”.

Connecting Cheshire was recently allocated around £4m under the government’s Superfast Extension Programme, which aims to expand the availability of fibre beyond the original 96% coverage target for the county.

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