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Cable and Wireless Cut Duddon Valley Broadband Link After Funds Run Dry

Thursday, May 24th, 2012 (1:16 pm) - Score 726

Global telecoms giant Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CWW), which is busy trying to sell itself to Vodafone for £1.044bn (here), has warned two rural England (UK) communities in Cumbria (Duddon Valley and Branthwaite) that it will cut their broadband connection by the end of June 2012 because the public subsidy has expired.

According to The Guardian, CWW claims that it would be “uneconomical” to continue the wireless (wifi) service, which cost roughly £500k to build between 2007 and 2008, from its own admittedly cash-strapped wallet. The sudden move will almost certainly cause significant problems for local residents and a number of businesses, which have come to rely on the connection.

Paul Batten, Landlord at the local Newfield Inn Pub, said:

If we don’t have broadband it’s going to promptly make some local businesses uneconomical. Who is going to move here with children or to try and run a business from home without broadband?”

Instead local people have been offered Satellite broadband as an alternative, which will come with a free installation. Naturally local people are highly sceptical of the new service (Satellite isn’t as flexible as what they had before), although the boss of related ISP Tooway Direct, Andrew Walwyn, is adamant that the “technology can be trusted“.

Andrew Walwyn, Managing Director of ToowayDirect, told ISPreview.co.uk:

It’s understandable that the people of The Duddon Valley are going to feel disappointed about being mislead about their broadband connection. However, it is important that they understand that satellite broadband isn’t a second rate solution. Satellite broadband is widely misunderstood in the UK – some people don’t know it’s available for the mass market and others have a misconception of its reliability.

In the past satellite has had a bad reputation for being slow and clunky. But following the introduction of a new satellite in June last year this has changed – it is now easy to install, reliable and fast and can scale with future needs. The fact is the technology is used across the world to connect people in remote locations – from reporters in Afghanistan, emergency services in remote locations to enabling the military to communicate from some of the most hostile and complex environments on the planet.

The technology can be trusted and that it can work from anywhere. We live in a digital world and satellite broadband is an enabler to get everyone online, regardless of location. There are some remote locations in Britain where it is simply not viable to connect via fibre – and it never will be, so it’s a shame that people are constantly mislead. But once people try satellite they don’t feel like they are missing out, especially with prices starting at a comparatively low £24.99 a month.”

In fairness it’s easy to see the problem. The service only had 42 subscribers, each paying less than £20 a month, but CWW recently had to spend £20k just to install a new electricity cable for the Duddon mast. Like it or not the business still needs to make a profit, especially if it’s to continue operating without public subsidy. Shame nobody thought about this when the service was being built.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. wirelesspacman says:

    £500k for 42 subscribers???

  2. Henry James says:

    Our satellite broadband solutions start at £19.99 per month. Want to know more, then just get in contact.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      “Super-fast” broadband is not speeds of up to 10Mbps via Satellite. You need to be offering an affordable service that can deliver at least 24Mbps+ to advertise it as “super-fast” now. Very misleading.

  3. David Sanchez says:

    Just had a Press release about Cumbria earlier today from Bentley Walker who have done a deal with Cable and Wireless to provide free Tooway installation for residents affected.

    http://www.bentley-walker.com/articles/100

    http://www.toowaycompare.com/blog/bentley-walker-provide-free-satellite-internet-to-cumbria/

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