Trailblazing rural customers get their broadband

Residents in the Yorkshire town of Todmorden now have access to broadband after reaching the critical mass of orders required for BT to upgrade the exchange

Broadband is being rolled out to local residents and businesses in Todmorden, the first place in Britain to be added to BT's broadband network thanks to public interest.

BT announced on Monday that the local exchange at Todmorden, Yorkshire, has now been fully upgraded to offer ADSL. To mark the occasion BTopenworld is giving away a free business broadband subscription to the area's first customer, Barbara McCluskey.

Todmorden's success is thanks to the efforts of a local campaign group, and -- according to Tony Harris, president of broadband Internet services at BTopenworld -- it shows that the rollout of broadband networks across the UK depends on local interest.

"For Broadband Britain to happen, it will need the support of the public. Todmorden is a great example of an area that wanted high-speed access and made it happen. With this type of support we can really deliver on our commitment to bring broadband to communities," said Harris.

In September, Todmorden became the first part of the UK to achieve the level of consumer demand for broadband needed for BT to upgrade the area's local exchange, when 200 local residents expressed their interest via BT's broadband registration scheme.

As ZDNet UK reported last month, over three-quarters of these people then placed advanced orders with ISPs, which meant that BT added Todmorden to its ADSL build programme.

Sixteen other local exchanges have also emulated Todmorden by securing sufficient advance orders to be promised broadband by BT, with Bradford-on-Avon, Tottington and Danbury the latest to cross the line. These three exchanges should be upgraded by early February 2003.

The scheme has had problems, though. Knaresborough has failed to achieve enough advance orders to be added to BT's ADSL build programme, even though 400 people initially expressed interest. BT has said it doesn't yet know the reason for this failure.

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