Edinburgh city centre 'suffering from third-world broadband' header image

The city centre in Edinburgh is suffering from poor broadband services that are comparable to those found in third-world countries, it has been suggested.

Dennis Chester, owner of the Electric Circus nightclub and karaoke venue on Market Street in the city, claimed the service provided by BT is no better than dial-up and criticised the telecoms giant for failing to upgrade to superfast fibre-optic connections, the Scotsman reports.

According to Mr Chester, the existing network struggles to cope during times when the city is very busy - such as during the summer festival season.

The area in question is the Rose Street exchange, which includes sections of George Street and Princes Street in the city centre. BT has declined to include this region in its £2.5 billion upgrade programme because it feels the area does not meet the criteria for commercial inclusion.

Mr Chester stated: "This is worse than dial-up and worse than most third-world countries. The ancient BT infrastructure could just not cope, overwhelmed by demand it seems."

Speaking in response, a spokeswoman from BT explained the Rose Street exchange does not require an improved service because there is only a small number of residential customers in the area, while the businesses located in the region often use their own private networks.

The representative commented: "Demand for even basic broadband at this exchange is at the lower end of the spectrum."

Marco Biagi, the SNP MSP for Edinburgh Central, is keen to see the rollout extended to the city centre and has written to communications minister Ed Vaizey to stress the point.

He noted, however, that investment cannot be made in city centres as part of the Scottish Government's Step Change programme. This is due to the fact the terms of European state aid have been designed specifically for rural broadband.

An alternative for homeowners is satellite broadband. This service offers speeds of up to 20 Mbps and can be set up within a matter of weeks of an order being placed.