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Speed us up!

Reporter: Robbie MacDonald
Date online: 28 February 2014

FIRMS at a modern Oldham business park say the lack of fast internet connections is hampering trade.

The 14 companies at Salmon Fields Business Village say offices are equipped internally with high-speed fibre cable fittings — but there is no high-speed link to a local telephone exchange.

British Telecom says it can’t improve speeds until the end of next year.

Oldham Council has now brought in independent experts from the Foxdenton development to explore alternatives.

A meeting between firms, BT, Oldham Council and others was held this week. Organiser Luke Vernon, from VSM Healthcare, said: “The business village was built in 2006 with the EU and each unit cost £180,000 plus VAT to buy at the time. These firms invested £3.8 million in Oldham at the time.

“People from BT say appropriate cabling is here and goes to the junction on Salmon Fields Road. But it ends there: the only link beyond is a single copper wire to the extremities of the Oldham telephone exchange. Internet times are extremely slow. We are all struggling.

“Our workforce has expanded by 20 per cent and we expect to double, but we can’t do it easily because so much work is online. Michael Meacher got involved and BT said a fast connection would be made - but there is no date.”

“In contrast a new housing estate behind us has fibre-optic connections and businesses south of Salmon Fields Road, such as Howarth Brothers, have super-fast broadband links to a Shaw exchange.”

Tansy Wilson, from design firm Studio 103, has clients in China but cannot send computer drawings to them using the internet. Instead she has to copy designs on to disc and post them, which takes a week.

Oldham Council officers Claire Nangle and Imogen Fuller attended the meeting. Mrs Nangle said: “The council absolutely understands the critical nature of broadband. We want to get the best possible, super-fast broadband access at Salmon Fields and across the borough.

“This area has virtually no provision. The whole town centre has no provision - other than the council and college. All our business areas have under-provision - but residential areas have it.”

She said Manchester and Salford were BT’s priority areas, but alternative support might be available through “rural” telecom funding.

She said the council was pushing BT “firmly” over Salmon Fields. The council is also working with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to lobby for installation of the latest cabling using the Metrolink tram network.

Arwel Lloyd, of Wrexham-based Utilities Connection Management Ltd - which is working on the Foxdenton development - said: there are similarly slow internet problems at other local business parks, but now are as slow as Salmon Fields.

 

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