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Family of five frustrated by super-slow broadband as neighbours enjoy lightning-fast speeds just metres away

Tuesday, January 3rd 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A family is stuck with frustratingly slow broadband speeds while their neighbours enjoy superfast fibre just metres away.

The Tubbrits have struggled with speeds of less than 2Mbps – the minimum speed the government says should be available to all – since moving into their new-build home six months ago.

The slow connection means working from home for dad John, a 37-year-old furniture seller, is impossible, while children Nicole, 13 (pictured), Emma, 8, and Jake, 7, face a regular battle to do their homework online.

Like many new-build residents, Mr Tubbrit and wife Raj, who works night shifts at the local A&E, assumed their new home would have a fast broadband connection.

But after moving they discovered that while most of the Cleadon Vale development in South Shields has been upgraded to fibre, a number of streets have been missed out, leaving some residents with speeds below 1Mbps.

“The current state of play is those who do not have this option have to contend with at best a 2Mbps connection, with a lot of people claiming to suffer from dial-up speeds,” said Mr Tubbrit, the director of an online furniture retailer.

“In a lot of cases, the house behind or next door enjoys a 50Mbps connection.”

Cable.co.uk has reported extensively on the poor and non-existent broadband connections that plague new developments.

The problems encountered by residents are ongoing despite Openreach's offer to provide fibre to all new-build developments of 30 or more homes, free of charge, and Virgin Media and the Home Builders Federation's bid to make the installation process easier for developers.

Mr Tubbrit’s frustration led him to start a petition for better broadband, which has so far gained 149 signatures.

'Postcode lottery'

He said the motivation came from "the apparent postcode lottery BT Openreach have decided to use to determine which properties get a fast connection and which don’t".

“The neighbour behind my house has access to fast fibre, we’re no more than a few metres away and we don’t. It’s the same situation for all those left out.”

Many residents who have signed the petition have also left comments detailing how the poor connections on the estate affect them.

Nicola Ward said: “In this day and age I don’t think it’s much to ask to have fast internet.

“My husband and I constantly have issues, I can’t stream something on the TV and have him listening to music on YouTube without the TV crashing.

“You pay a fortune for a brand new house and the simplest of expectations can’t be met.”

Katie Newton said she works from home and the internet is often too slow even to send and receive emails, while Faye Dixon said she ends up with huge phone bills because her slow broadband leaves her reliant on mobile data.

Ben Cavanagh questioned why developers Bellway didn’t get fibre installed while the estate was still being built.

David Nesbitt is one of the residents lucky enough to have fibre broadband – but getting access to service wasn't exactly plain sailing.

After moving onto the estate in January 2013, Mr Nesbitt spent seven months without so much as a phone line.

After months of cancelled orders and "promise after promise broken", an email to the chief executive of BT eventually brought a basic phone and broadband connection.

When new homes were built nearby with immediate access to fibre Mr Nesbitt started again, emailing BT executives, his local MP and even the culture secretary until, some two-and-a-half years later, there was a knock at his door.

"It was two Openreach engineers who said they had been sent to investigate the possibility of connecting us to fibre broadband," said Mr Nesbitt. "It took then less than two hours to complete the task, we were live with 37Mbps fibre less than a week later."

An Openreach spokesperson said: “Nine out of ten homes and businesses in the UK can order superfast speeds today, and our engineers are making fibre broadband available to thousands more premises each week.

“We’re always happy to speak with developers about installing fibre services to new homes, and we recently pledged to install ultrafast infrastructure free of charge in all new sites with 30 homes or more.

“We’re in discussions with the developer that owns the site Mr Tubbrit’s home is on about bringing superfast broadband to the residents.

“Anyone who thinks their broadband isn’t going to be upgraded by Openreach or another company can register their interest on our website, or explore the possibility of a co-funded fibre partnership.”

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