South Leeds: Superfast web access ... at last

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campaigners who have fought a long battle to bring faster internet access to thousands of homes have won another victory.

For years residents of parts of Middleton, as well as Belle Isle, have been dogged by slow connection speeds.

In 2013 service provider BT bowed to public pressure and upgraded street cabinets to provide superfast fibre optic broadband.

Now Virgin has followed suit, with 9,000 homes in the south of the city expected to benefit from its ‘ultrafast’ broadband service.

Carl Thomas, who lives in New Forest Village, led the campaign even though he does not stand to benefit because Virgin cannot lay cables on his street, which is unadopted.

He said: “It’s about consumer choice. The key thing is that it gives people options about which provider they use.

“Even those people who don’t want to move providers can use the fact that there is competition as a bargaining tool.”

Middleton Park councillor Kim Groves, who supported the campaign, said: “I’m delighted that residents have got a choice. There’s nothing more powerful than when people work together, taking on big companies and getting this kind of outcome I’m sure there will be no shortage of demand for the service from Virgin.

“We are in the 21st century, in an area that’s only five miles from the city centre and people should have the high speed access they need, especially those who work from home.”

The first homes are expected to be able to access the Virgin service by the end of the month, with all 9,000 homes having access by the end of the year.

MP Hilary Benn, who was also part of the campaign, said: “I’m passionate about people having access to efficient broadband because it’s the artery of our personal and business and community lives, just as roads, rail and canals were in centuries gone by.”

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