Telecoms giant BT is attempting to charge a couple who want a broadband connection for their home and guesthouse business £45,000 to have it installed.
At present there are 150 people in the Cumbrian village of Dufton with BT broadband access, but the company says there is no more capacity for new users.
The couple believes that this bill is effectively the cost for hooking up the rest of the village without it. Their home is just ten yards from a telephone pole next door to other residents already with broadband.
“We just want the same crap broadband service as everybody else in the village but BT won't even let us have that.” Mrs Walker told the Daily Mail.
BT was offered to pay up to £8,000 towards the cost of the work, but the balance of £45,000 would be passed to another company, which in turn said it would pass it on to the Walkers.
BT was also in the news yesterday for saying that its Whole Broadband Connect (WBC) high-speed broadband service is now available to more than half the country. WBC offer speeds of up to 24Mbit/s
Sian Baldwin, broadband director at BT Wholesale, said: "Already more than 550,000 end users are enjoying our ADSL2+ copper service, with more than 20,000 to 30,000 end user customers being added each week."
Baldwin added that faster broadband speeds are an essential tool to help businesses cope with the tough economic conditions and competitive environment. The Walkers in Cumbria are concerned that if they are unable to get basic broadband to their home and guesthouse business, they will lose custom.
BT has also called on its rivals to open up their network infrastructure to boost broadband coverage and competition in the sector, after it was told off by Ofcom. The Conservative Party has also made no secret of the fact that, once in power, it would open BT’s underground network of ducts to rivals.
According to the Financial Times, BT has agreed open its networks for a nominal fee, to avoid unnecessarily digging up pavements while rival broadband providers install their own super-fast networks.