Page last updated at 08:52 GMT, Sunday, 22 February 2009

Man, 85, wins broadband battle

Vincent Baker
I'm spending far too much time on my computer - my wife is beginning to complain
Vincent Baker, on his broadband internet connection

An 85-year-old computer user says he is enjoying a broadband connection to his rural home, after four years of trying.

Vincent Baker was told three times the BT line to his home near Abersytwyth, Ceredigion, was suitable for broadband.

But whenever engineers tried to connect him there was a problem and he was told there was "no timescale" to rectify it.

However, "complicated" engineering work by BT has seen a fourth attempt prove successful. A delighted Mr Baker said: "It makes so much difference."

Retired catering executive Mr Baker said he had given up hope of upgrading his dial-up internet connection after three previous attempts, beginning in 2005, failed.

Yet neighbours near his village home at Aberffrwyd, near Aberystwyth, were able to enjoy broadband, even though they were on the same BT line via the same exchange.

One engineer told him the problem was "buried loading pots" on the line, yet BT's website listed his number as suitable for broadband.

Mr Baker, whose first computer was a Sinclair ZX80, said he and wife Margaret, 83, regularly used internet shopping as arthritis had begun to limit their mobility. He said he was finding dial-up "slow and very frustrating."

His case was taken up by his AM, Elin Jones. BT said the provision of broadband was always subject to a line survey.

However, after the BBC News website highlighted his case, BT invited Mr Baker to reapply for a broadband service.

The result is that, after engineering work on the line and the exchange, Mr Baker has become a fully fledged silver surfer, with a 3-meg service via Tiscali.

He said: "The engineer was here for about a fortnight. He tested the line up to about 600m and everything was fine.

"What he couldn't understand was how my neighbour was able to get broadband and I wasn't, when we were both in the same line.

"He got the exchange to make some changes. He was almost as pleased as I was when he got it working.

'Homes and businesses'

"It much easier to email my children and grandchildren, one of whom is teaching in Thailand.

"I'm spending far too much time on my computer. I am still finding out things to do. My wife is beginning to complain."

Plaid Cymru AM Ms Jones said she was pleased BT carried out the required engineering work.

She said: "To date, I have been contacted by over 250 homes and businesses in Ceredigion who currently cannot receive a broadband connection.

"However, the situation is slowly improving and the assembly government recently announced that it is working with BT to improve broadband availability in six Welsh villages, including at Cilcennin in Ceredigion."

A BT spokesman said the engineering fix had been clearly "complicated".

He said: "We are delighted that we have finally been able to resolve the issues in this case and that Mr Baker now has a working broadband service that meets his needs."

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