Huddersfield villagers 'calling for end to broadband apartheid' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

Residents of a particular postcode in Huddersfield are calling on the government to invest more money in broadband infrastructure in the countryside, as they believe there is currently an "internet apartheid" between urban and rural parts of the UK.

According to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, some areas with the HD8 postcode are able to access super-fast broadband speeds, much like those living in nearby urban developments. However, those residing in villages on the outskirts, such as Bird’s Edge, Upper Cumberworth and Upper Denby, are still struggling with slow and outdated connections.

This is certainly not a new issue, as both villagers and councillors have been trying to get BT to resolve the problem for the last eight years and have been campaigning for the government to invest in the area's internet infrastructure.

As with many other regions in the UK, it is thought that the telecommunications company has in the past declined to upgrade the service in HD8 as it does not believe it would be commercially viable. Virgin has also apparently refused to offer residents its fibre optic broadband for similar reasons.

After getting no luck contacting providers directly, campaigners have previously tried to take advantage of a range of subsidy schemes, such as the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), but this has also proved to be unsuccessful.

Graham Sykes, a resident of Upper Cumberworth, told the newspaper that he has been fighting for an improved broadband connection since he moved to the village in 2007. However, this has been to no avail and he is still struggling with speeds of just 1 Mbps - a far cry from the UK average of 19 Mbps.

"Although we are on the edge of a vast conurbation, BT Wholesale and Virgin have no plans for our area and indeed only improve provision where there is competition between them so as to keep their share," he explained.

"Here, where I live, there is no incentive for them to do anything."

Mr Skyes added that when BDUK's target of connecting 95 per cent of homes to super-fast broadband is mentioned in the media, the increasing "apartheid" between urban towns and rural villages is completely ignored.