Final plug pulled on Digital Region flop

Mike Hull of SMC Chartered Surveyors
Mike Hull of SMC Chartered Surveyors
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South Yorkshire’s cursed superfast broadband network Digital Region is being turned off forever on August 14 - leaving dozens of homes and businesses with no connection.

The plug will be pulled on the vast network of fibre optic cabling after no buyer could be found for the hi-tec system.

It is the final act in a disastrous plan by South Yorkshire’s four councils to fire the county to the forefront of digital connectivity.

The project, which cost the taxpayer in excess of £100m, was killed off last summer when the Government refused to shoulder any more costs. At one point it was losing £1m-a-month.

Mike Hull, co-director of SMC Chartered Surveyors on Campo Lane in Sheffield city centre said they were being forced to connect to a new line 10 times slower than their doomed Digital Region link.

“What a shower, we’ve been left in the lurch. It’s a real backwards step that’s going to impact on our business.

“Because Digital Region was first in the city centre there are no other superfast suppliers on our road which is incredible in one of the country’s biggest cities.

“I’m told uploading big files will go from taking 30 seconds to four minutes on ordinary broadband.

“Then there’s the set-up costs, modem costs and a new 12-month contract.

“We’ve heard nothing from Digital Region and there are no transition plans. The plug is being pulled and no one seems to care.”

Richard Jepson, of Digital Region, said they would switch off the network on August 14 unless a buyer for the cabling could be found.

He added: “There’s possibly someone taking it over but I can say no more.”

They had been trying to find a buyer since last September, he added.

“We do not have a relationship with end users. That is the responsibility of the four ISPs on the network: ASK4, Origins, Chess Telecom and Fluid Data.”

When it closed Digital Region had 3,000 customers -against a planned 108,000.

The estimated cost of continuing with the project was £95.8 m according to the Digital Region website.