David Banks: No quick fix for superfast broadband

Journal columnist David Banks bemoans his internet service provider's slowness in upgrading his connection to superfast broadband

Broadband speeds in rural parts of Northumberland are struggling

I am thinking of inviting those nice people from British Telecom Broadband to my daughter’s wedding next month, I feel I know them so well.

This is how the invitation might read: “Dear Paul in the engineering department of BT’s ‘SUPERFAST broadband’ division (yes, Paul, I DID write ‘superfast’ and no, I’m not having a laugh): please come to my daughter’s wedding next month. Don’t bother with a present, just bring your toolkit.

“You might remember we spoke last Tuesday regarding my upgraded connection to the fibre optic broadband cable which has been sitting under the road outside my house since your colleagues finished the two-month trench-digging operation before Christmas.

“I still chuckle over the way you admitted your embarrassment that although your computer held all the details of my order for an eighty-megabyte connection, its installation had “not actually been actioned” for the promised date.

“Yes Paul, three weeks after the order and the message to install had STILL not been delivered to your department. Imagine! Oh, how we laughed!

“Then I went one better than that, remember? I told you that my original New Year’s attempt to upgrade online had brought a phone call from a lady called Tanya (it’s so FRIENDLY how we all get to know your first names at BT, don’t you think?).

“She told me that “it’s practically impossible to upgrade broadband online” and proceeded to cancel my botched attempt and re-register my upgrade over the phone, promising installation on January 27. “Which brings us to the day three weeks later when that nice lady with the Indian accent put me through to you.

“I had called somewhere foreign to ask where my BT broadband upgrade had got to, and why I hadn’t heard anything since promising to pay twice my original subscription for your fantastic new service.

“You and I got on like a house on fire: you booked me a new installation date – “sorry it can’t be any earlier than February 16, that’s our earliest available time,” you told me – and I said not to worry, I’d so enjoyed the chats with you and Tanya and the Indian lady that I’d like to see you all at Tasha’s wedding.

“Well, Paul, the Big Day is looming and I’m still no nearer getting that super-duper, ever-so-fast broadband. . .

“Yesterday, you see, another BT lady (called Debbie, if memory serves me right) rang to say that before you can proceed I need an external survey “in a week or so”. A NEW installation date will then be communicated to me, she promised.

“It’s not that I’m likely to have been waiting at least two months before I finally get my superfast service, OR that I’d have been quicker sending a runner with a forked stick to deliver my emails.

“No, what worries me is that we’re running out of room to accommodate all of you really, really nice BT people at the wedding reception. You already outnumber the groom’s family.

“By the way, the wedding’s on March 13 but that date might have to move, depending on whether or not anyone’s booked the register office, the result of a final BT headcount and the state of my wallet.

“But then you wonderful men and women at BT know how it is. . .”

:: The Met Office has issued a “yellow snow warning” for this weekend; but why? Wasn’t every schoolkid advised never to eat yellow snow?

:: When will the British press be brave enough to question the seemingly endless, pointless and massively wasteful pursuit of journalists through the courts?

The latest trial of six Sun journalists facing a total of 22 charges ended last week with not a single conviction.

The jury spent three months listening to the evidence and 49 hours trying to work out whether or not any law had been breached. They couldn’t.

The ordeal of defendants who have been on bail since they were arrested three years ago continues, however: the Crown Prosecution Service, determined to muzzle free speech – yours as well as the media’s – has applied for retrials.

Enough, already!



David Whetstone
Culture Editor
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