Villages around Welwyn Hatfield struggle for fast internet access

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:25 13 February 2014

Chamber of Commerce chairman Nick Brown

Chamber of Commerce chairman Nick Brown


Thousands of people living in rural areas around Welwyn Garden City are disadvantaged by slow broadband internet access, one of the town’s leading entrepreneurs has warned.

Nick Brown, chairman of Welwyn Hatfield Chamber of Commerce, has highlighted the absence of any plans to introduce super-fast broadband technology to areas north and west of the town, including Codicote, Tewin, Whitwell, Kimpton, and most of Wheathampstead.

He told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “There are areas less than five miles from WGC with no fast broadband, and no plans for it either.

“If you have children trying to do school homework, they are at a significant disadvantage.

“Access to fast broadband is increasingly important for your business and your home for your children’s education. We are fast developing a two-tier society of the haves and have nots in the broadband stakes.

“This is a critical social and economic issue.”

Neither BT nor Sky currently offer super-fast broadband in the five villages, but Mr Brown said personal contacts in Virgin Media had told him last summer it was planning to lay cables in the area.

However, his hopes have now been dashed by the Liberty Group, which bought Virgin Media in September.

Mr Brown added: “The situation has just got worse. Liberty have just announced that they will not be investing any further in cable in the ground.”

A spokesman for Virgin Media told the WHT it had recently installed fast broadband to a new estate in Wheathampstead, but there were no plans for the other villages.

Ian Herbertson, head of new build at Virgin Media said: “We’d love to provide super-fast broadband to everyone, but unfortunately it’s too expensive to build our network out to Whitwell and Kimpton and we wouldn’t be able to offer customers an affordable service.

“We’ve invested over £13 billion of private money to create infrastructure which already passes half of all UK homes but, while we’re constantly looking at ways to expand within our own means, for the moment unfortunately we can’t help here.”

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