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Fife man livid over super-slow broadband on new-build estate

Tuesday, March 24th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A frustrated resident on a Scottish housing estate is demanding to know when he will get superfast broadband after waiting months for the service.

Chris Ramsay moved to a newer part of the village of Kinglassie in Fife last year believing it would have superfast broadband before the end of 2014.

But despite his local exchange being upgraded in October, the cabinet serving Mr Ramsay's estate was not. Five months on, he and his neighbours are still without fast broadband.

He has asked both Fife Council and BT Openreach repeatedly when he can expect to be able to access faster speeds, but said he has not been able to get an answer.

He said: “Kinglassie is a small village, my estate is a new bit added about seven years ago and there’s one cabinet feeding the whole new estate. I’ve been told the exchange is live, but the cabinet isn’t.

“One of my colleagues spoke to one Openreach guy who happened to be part of the team that wired up Kinglassie for fibre optic broadband, and he says they didn’t even run the cable to my cabinet.

“So one person says one thing, and another says something else. It’s pretty frustrating.”

According to Mr Ramsay, what makes the situation even more frustrating is that he lives just 800 yards from a friend in the older part of Kinglassie, who can get superfast speeds as he is served by a different cabinet.

“I’ve joked that I could run a cable from his house to my house and probably get his broadband.

“He can get 58Mbps download speed and 20Mbps upload, while I can get about 6.5Mbps down and about 0.3Mbps up.

Poor mobile coverage

“And I’m one of the lucky ones. The cabinet is at the end of my street so I get about 6Mbps, but some people are getting less than 1Mbps.”

Mr Ramsay and his family enjoy watching Netflix and playing online games, but are prohibited by their broadband speed, he said.

With poor mobile coverage in their area, they also rely on a Vodafone Sure Signal box – which uses a plug-in base station to boost 3G coverage – to make and receive phone calls, but this is also limited by their broadband speed.

“It needs a minimum of 0.35Mbps upload speed to work, so on good days I can make a phone call, on a bad day I can’t,” he said.

“If somebody wants to make a phone call it’s a case of, ‘turn the PCs off, turn Netflix off’, to make it work. We shouldn’t have to do that in this day and age.”

Mr Ramsay is now lobbying local residents, politicians, and Fife Council for answers about when they can expect to be upgraded to superfast broadband, and what is causing the delay.

He said when he raised the issue at a local residents’ association meeting, people were shocked to learn that the rest of Kinglassie had been upgraded, yet they hadn’t.

He has also produced a leaflet for fellow residents, explaining the situation to those who are unaware and trying to get more support for the issue.

'We want superfast broadband'

“The more people we have behind us, the more chance we have to get something done. We want this done, we want superfast broadband.

“There’s a lot of young families, they all have Xbox, PlayStation, iPads, etc, and if they are getting 1Mbps you just can’t use them for much.

“I can understand if you have got issues where the exchange is miles from the cabinet, but our exchange is less than a mile to the cabinet."

A spokesperson for the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme said: “Prior to Digital Scotland’s investment, around 69.2% of premises in Fife had access to fibre technology.

“With Fife Council’s investment of £2.8 million in the programme to improve coverage, the programme aims to increase coverage of fibre broadband to 98.4% by the end of 2017/18.

“This will be one of the highest figures within a local authority, and Scotland, for access to fibre broadband.

“Currently, there are three ‘live’ cabinets in the Kinglassie area, serving 725 homes and businesses. However, there is a small amount of work still to come.”

The spokesperson advised people to sign up to Keep Me In The Loop (www.digitalscotland.org/newsletter-signup) to find out when their cabinet will be enabled.

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