Hundreds of web users cut off without warning

Origin Broadband,Thorne Road,Doncaster, pictured are Oliver Bryssau (MD) left and Henri Wust (Technical Director), right
Origin Broadband,Thorne Road,Doncaster, pictured are Oliver Bryssau (MD) left and Henri Wust (Technical Director), right
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Imagine your internet connection suddenly goes down and it’s not clear what’s happened - or when you’ll be reconnected.

Now imagine the howls of anger and despair after exactly that happened to hundreds of people - and businesses - across South Yorkshire last Friday morning.

Internet service provider Origin Broadband of Doncaster has been at the centre of a storm of criticism after the Digital Region broadband network was shut down for good last week.

It appears many of its estimated 1,600 customers thought the firm would seamlessly move them on to another network with no internet downtime or extra charges.

The company appears to have had plans to build its own network by installing equipment in telephone exchanges and using BT Openreach cables - like big companies such as Talk Talk.

But the hugely ambitious and expensive plan hit technical and financial problems - and then ran out of time.

Despite having no internet, hundreds of people have bombarded the firm’s Facebook page, Twitter feed and forums with complaints about being cut off and poor customer service, including failing to reach the helpdesk.

They also flocked to complain to industry regulator Ofcom which has confirmed it is looking into the matter.

Origin was established by computer science graduates Henri Wusst and Oliver Bryssau, the managing director, in 2011.

Peter Lowes, Origin Broadband head of operations, said: “The reason Origin didn’t warn customers that they were going to lose service is that we didn’t know that this would happen until the closure was imminent. We deeply regret this has happened.

“Origin made a massive investment and has spent the last year building the fourth largest broadband network in South Yorkshire specifically to avoid this issue.

“Any customer who has been without service will be refunded for any downtime and we are considering claims for compensation on a case-by-case basis.

“We are doing everything in our power to restore service to all those affected as quickly as we can.

“We had an agreement with a major telecommunications company to move customers from Digital Region to Origin’s new network. Shortly before the closure on August 15, it was made clear that a migration would not be technically possible due to the type of technology that Digital Region used and just to attempt it would cost hundreds of pounds per customer - with no guarantees as to its success.

“The situation as it stands now is that a minority of our customers within South Yorkshire have temporarily lost their broadband service. Our team are working around the clock to reconnect every customer as quickly as possible.”

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We understand that following the closure of Digital Region, Origin Broadband has been moving customers on to a new Openreach product.

“We also understand that, in some cases, Origin is charging customers to move. Under Ofcom rules communications providers are required to give customers at least one month’s notice of likely charges and give notice of their right to terminate their contract without penalty.

“Ofcom has been in touch with Origin, and the company has confirmed that it is allowing all customers to exit their contract without penalty if they are not happy with the changes.”