Published: 9th Mar 2015
The residents of a rural town in Teesdale have hit out at their broadband provider, after it announced it would cease to provide a service in the area.
Digital Teesdale - supported by Wireless Networks - has supplied the internet to farmers, businesses and homes in the region since 2011.
When the firm went into administration, ITS Technology Group took over and continued to provide the service. However, it has since announced that this is no longer commercially viable and will be switching it off within the next month, according to the Northern Echo.
This means that residents and businesses - who already struggle with inconsistent access - now have to swallow a significant hike in price to find another provider or face the prospect of living and working without broadband.
Farmers Carl and Julia Stephenson, who live and work near Barnard Castle in Teesdale, have been customers of Digital Teesdale since its launch and are both angry that ITS Technology Group have decided to pull the plug.
"Whatever choice we make for broadband now, we face being without it for a considerable time," Mr Stephenson told the newspaper.
He explained that he needs the internet to run his business and his daughter needs it to study for her degree. Mr Stephenson described the service as vital to his livelihood and his child's success at university.
"This is a vibrant farming community and people will struggle due to this," he lamented.
The community is now worried about how much it will cost to get another provider to offer them the service.
Helen Goodman, Bishop Auckland’s Labour MP, described the state of broadband in Teesdale as "totally unacceptable". She believes the government has made a series of mistakes, disadvantaging people in the area and has committed herself to lobbying for vast improvements.
Roy Shelton, chief executive officer of ITS Technology Group, claimed that the firm had been in talks with another internet service provider, Comtek, to arrange coverage, but a minimum of 50 people need to sign up before they will agree.
He said the decision to switch the network off was "not taken lightly", but will see it cut off within the next 30 days.
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