Residents angered by “unacceptable” Digital Teesdale switch-off

Residents and businesses in rural Tessdale are expressing concern as their current superfast broadband service is set to be switched off by the end of the month.

The Digital Teesdale project, which has provided rural broadband services since 2011, is to no longer offer broadband services following a dispute between the providers and the owners of the masts.

Following the switch-off, 150 residents will either lose their internet services or face spending an estimated £575 to cover the £75,000 cost to rebuild the network, plus £39.99 per month.

Doug Steen a local business owner said, “the pricing of the replacement service is clearly out of reach”.

The areas are not expected to be reached by BT Openreach and Durham County Council’s superfast broadband rollout, and the council has said it will not cover any infrastructure costs as a result of Digital Teesdale’s withdrawal.

Richard Cooke, from Comtek, explained, “we have approached Durham County Council to explore the options, however, due to the contract it has with BT for the Digital Durham roll out, it would not be able to contribute anything until BT declares where its service will not reach. This could be as late as 2018.”

Digital Teesdale user Emma Pinwill said that the alternative mobile internet connection is “painfully slow”.

Teesdale’s MP, Helen Goodman, concluded that “the current state of broadband in Teesdale is totally unacceptable.”

The Digital Dale project was jointly funded by Teesdale Action Partnership which invested £89,780, the council provided £232,650 and additionally by Rural Development Programme for England and private firm Networks by Wireless.

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