Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Bring High-Speed Internet to Industry before Homes'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Bring High-Speed Internet to Industry before Homes'

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Wearmouth Regional Affairs Reporter

CALLS are being made for the swift rollout of high-speed broadband at the North East's largest industrial estate as it is claimed firms' growth is stunted by the slow connection.

Small businesses at Team Valley Trading Estate feel they are "banging their head against a brick wall" as broadband is installed at countless North housing estates, including those in rural areas, but not at the huge Gateshead employment hub.

The estate was founded in 1930 with a bold PS2m investment from Government, but business owner Charles Dix says it is being left behind in the digital age.

The man behind Walter Dix and Co cookers, on the estate's Stirling Court, said: "It means that in this office, where we have five computers, that if two or three are checking stock online then everything slows down. It then takes much longer to do jobs than is necessary and it is very frustrating.

"It has an impact on our site because it is also a disincentive for other employers or potential employers to invest in additional staff or to keep their website up to date. I do our website at home.

"You hear of rural communities getting high-speed broadband at the cost of the taxpayer, but here we have a high concentration of employment and we are not getting it. We are putting the emphasis on the wrong thing. We should be thinking about industrial and commercial premises, where high-speed broadband can be of great use."

He added: "I feel as if I am banging my head against a brick wall."

BT, which stressed it is not the only internet provider working in the region, said it is working to connect Team Valley Trading Estate before March 2016 as part of its Digital Durham programme but that it is "impossible to connect everyone simultaneously".

MPs from the region are calling for action to be taken sooner.

Chi Onwurah, Newcastle Central MP and Shadow Digital Minister, said: "It is entirely unacceptable that small businesses like Walter Dix don't have access to the broadband they need for their businesses to succeed, contribute to the economy and provide jobs. …

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