Concern over Harrogate broadband speeds as usage surges during lockdown
There are signs that the surge in usage is leading to a slower service for some in North Yorkshire as people work from home with multiple devices.
But the Harrogate Advertiser has learned that the march towards the promised land of full fibre is, in fact, continuing across the Harrogate district despite the lockdown.
Classified as key workers by the Government, telecom engineers from TalkTalk are currently hard at work in Bilton installing full fibre as part of the national company’s multi-million pound FibreNation programme.
Once completed, the roll-out in the Harrogate district will provide a network build of gigabit-ready fibre to an additional 50,000 homes and businesses by 2023.
But a spokesperson for TalkTalk said that internet speeds were causing some problems.
The spokesperson said: “As more people are working from home and/or have multiple devices running, internet speeds are decreasing in the area, which is why it’s important that FibreNation continues to build, giving more people access to this new network, which in turn alleviates some of the pressure from the old copper network.”
North Yorkshire County Council told the Harrogate Advertiser that its broadband company NYnet had received a new wave of requests for better fibre packages.
But North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access, Coun Don Mackenzie, also said the council’s own £15.1 million project to deploy a new gigabit capable “full fibre” network at 370 public sector sites in North Yorkshire such as council buildings and hospitals was making good progress despite coronavirus.
Coun Mackenzie said: “Our broadband company NYnet has received many upgrade requests to cater for increased digital requirements.
“But work is continuing on our LFFN project, in accordance with Covid-19 guidance.
“Knaresborough High Street is getting LFFN fibre laid now. We have also offered our NHS clients an upgrade to 24/7 continuous service free of charge.”
With more families using the same connection and many businesses being conducted at home often on the same server, the question of 5G or not 5G is more than a matter of streaming movies or spending days on gaming consoles.
While the demand has increased, members of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce say the experience of members attempting to do business online was encouraging so far.
The chamber’s chief executive, Sandra Doherty, who is recovering at home after a bout of the virus, said: “I haven’t heard of anybody struggling.
“My service has held up well apart from one evening when I had to call my provider to get them to reset the box.”
The chamber’s president Steve Scarre said he, like many other people, had turned to video conferencing for life and business.
Mr Scarre said: “My family, who we can’t come into physical contact with, are using social media to communicate with us much more.
“I am using the internet for my business and other activities constantly.
“I live in HG2, so I can’t speak for other areas in the town and outlying villages, but my experience is that, with careful planning, the broadband has worked well for me so far, considering everybody else’s usage must be way up.
“I even chaired a Horticap board meeting lasting two hours and involving nine people using video conferencing during the work day.”
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