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'56,000' bill to connect Ceredigion home to broadband

19 March 10 18:09 GMT

British Telecom has been accused by a businessman of being unfair to rural areas after quoting more than £56,000 to install broadband at his farmhouse.

Tony Simkin, of Beulah, Ceredigion, who has a jewellers in Somerset, wanted to file his VAT returns online.

But he put his plans on hold when he says he was quoted £56,693.

BT disputed the figure, and said it was more like £47,000, which reflected the extra work needed to provide broadband where there was no spare capacity.

He asked BT for a quote for broadband. The company replied, saying it would cost £48,250, plus VAT of £8,443.

BT told Mr Simkin a new line was needed because his present telephone line was shared (the technical term is DACS) with an unmanned water pumping station across the road from his house.

Mr Simkin, whose business is in Street, Somerset, said: "What I find particularly galling is that I understand that if it were not for my shared line I would now be connected to the internet just like the two neighbouring farms, which are within 400 yards of my house.

Broadband investment

"BT never asked me to share the line with the pumping station - in fact I did not know I was on a shared line until I asked to be connected to the internet.

"Yet now I am being asked to pay over £50,000 because of BT's action in extending my telephone line to this water pumping station."

He added: "I believe it is grossly unfair of BT to ignore people in rural areas so that they can maximise their profits in cities and well populated areas."

BT said Mr Simkin was quoted £40,000 excluding VAT for broadband.

A spokesman added: "There can be very rare cases where additional charges need to be applied because of an exceptional amount of work required to the network in order to provide service.

"The charges quoted to Mr Simkins service provider - just over £40,000 excluding VAT - reflect the additional line plant and equipment needed to provide broadband at this particular location, where there is currently no spare capacity.

"BT's local network business, Openreach, has offered to pay the first £8,000 of the work.

"BT is making a multibillion-pound investment in its UK network and is continuing to work with the Welsh Assembly Government to find solutions for the relatively few areas in Wales still unable to access a broadband service."

In November 2007, regeneration group Mid Wales Partnership said black holes in rural Wales's broadband network were putting the area in danger of falling behind the rest of the UK.

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