Suffolk family quoted 'jaw-dropping' £2,323 for fibre broadband
A Zen Internet customer has told of her shock after being quoted more than £2,000 to upgrade to fibre broadband.
Sam Watson, 47, lives in the village of Lavenham, near Sudbury in Suffolk, with her husband Simon, also 47, and children Becky, 17, and Mikey, 13.
The family gets “reasonable” broadband speeds but decided to upgrade after hearing fibre had been made available in the village as part of the Better Broadband for Suffolk rollout.
“Having two teenagers plus running an IT consultancy business partly from home I got in touch with Zen,” Mrs Watson told Cable.co.uk.
“A couple of weeks passed, Openreach turned up for a site survey but didn't give me much information beyond needing to dig across our garden.”
She then received a phone call from Zen, a residential and business broadband provider based in Rochdale, to say fibre cables would have to be laid to her house from the cabinet at the end of the street, at a cost of £2,323.
“It’s mind-boggling, even the Zen rep was shocked,” said Mrs Watson.
“I asked if we could just go with fibre to the cabinet, but apparently that’s a different technology and not what our cabinet is enabled for.”
Fibre to the cabinet uses the copper wires already connecting each house to the cabinet, rather than running a new fibre cable to every property.
“This really bothers me. Better Broadband For Suffolk tweet every time a cabinet gets upgraded, but what does that even mean?
“It certainly doesn’t mean that consumers are connected to superfast broadband, as I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s been quoted a jaw-dropping amount for installation.”
'We lose connection when it rains'
She said the Watsons are “just an average family” that has been getting “reasonable” speeds of 10Mbps (download) and 0.87Mbps (upload) since they switched to Zen.
But she admitted: “As soon as more than one person wants to be online, we hit trouble.
“Our main problems are bandwidth and reliability – our estate was built in the 1970s and the copper wires running to our house are buried underground so we tend to lose connection when it rains plus we get ants invading the wiring/terminal box.
“As to bandwidth, the kids rely on the internet to keep in touch with their friends – being rural, even school friends can live 20-30 miles away.
“They also stream online TV and movies as well as gaming, there’s not much for teenagers to do here and buses are expensive/infrequent so being able to connect helps them feel less isolated as well as keeping up with what's going on in their world.”
Mrs Watson said she and her husband have set up an office five miles away because it has become “almost impossible” to work from home.
A Zen spokesperson said: “As an ISP dedicated to providing a great customer experience, we share the frustrations of users who come across unexpected costs when trying to have connectivity installed at their premises.
The spokesperson said the government had invested "significant amounts of capital" to ensure infrastructure is upgraded so internet service providers can make the rollout of superfast broadband as simple as possible for customers, with minimal financial burden.
“Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict the quality of pre-existing connectivity ducts installed underground, so when they come to be refurbished or replaced high excess construction charges can be generated which place significant financial pressure on the user – as we see in this particular customer’s case.
“Customers incur excess construction charges only in exceptional circumstances. Zen Internet will continue to work closely with customers and suppliers to ensure the provisioning of connectivity is pain-free in as many cases as possible.”
Update: A spokesperson for Openreach said: "Openreach charges each broadband provider the same amount when their customers want to upgrade to fibre broadband.
"In almost every case this amount is small and not passed onto the customer, but in a tiny minority of cases we face complex engineering challenges that cost a lot more to overcome.
“In this case, we’d need to excavate a road and install new cabling to connect a single home.
"Openreach covers the first £1,000 of costs in any case like this, but the remainder is passed to the customer’s service provider.”
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