Amber Stockdale is frustrated.

As administrator for the planning consultancy company Planning Branch, superfast broadband would make business easier and better.

The company is based on the Eden Business Park, Penrith.

You would expect superfast broadband to be operating on a business park if anywhere.

Other firms have it, but Amber is still waiting.

So are others.

She says: “The internet for us is very slow and it does not come across very well when you are talking to other businesses and waiting for something to download.

“Some companies here do have access to superfast broadband, but there is not enough to supply everyone.

“The connecting box only has so many lines.

“We have written to BT but they have not given us a date for connection.

“There is another box that has not been enabled yet, but I understand there will not be enough capacity there to supply all the businesses that need it.”

Penrith Chamber of Trade president Heidi Marshall says others have complained.

“There area where there is particular frustration is the Eden Business Park,” she explains.

“Although it is an industrial estate, it still does not have a fast broadband.

“Of all the places that need it most, that is one of them.

“For a business it is a must-have utility, as important as power or water.”

Mrs Marshall says the availability of superfast broadband is vital in attracting and retaining businesses.

She adds: “It would put me off moving anywhere if it did not offer high speed broadband.

“There are a lot of empty units on the business park and it is not surprising.”

Amber Stockdale says: “We have office space upstairs to rent but people don’t want it because we have not got superfast broadband.

“Superfast is crucial now for business.”

Oliver Shimell, commercial services manager for Eden District council says the authority has asked BT “several times” to provide a specific timescale when superfast broadband will be available on the entire site of Eden Business Park.

“The council have been informed that the area should be covered by phase 2 of the rollout but this, to our knowledge, runs until March 2018 which is a long time away when our businesses need it immediately and not specific enough of a timescale for our businesses to be able to plan for,” he says.

“We are aware that some businesses have taken to installing their own solutions at quite a high cost – this option is evidently not open to all businesses due to the constraints of the high cost.”

A BT spokeswoman says: “There is a fibre broadband cabinet planned for that area of the business park which will be live by March 2017. This is being delivered by our local network business, Openreach.

“This cabinet is part of the phase 2 of the connecting Cumbria programme and this is when it has been scheduled for.

"The programme is in several phases and depends on a number of factors, including the most economical and viable timescale for where the fibre goes to first.”

The Connecting Cumbria programme run by the county council with BT is rolling out superfast broadband across the county.

So far, some 550 fibre broadband cabinets have been installed, with the aim of supplying 120,000 households and businesses.

Towns and villages across Cumbria are being connected as part of a government initiative to ensure that 95 per cent of properties in the UK can access superfast broadband services by the end 2017.

Graham Haywood, director of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership says the roll-out is going well: “We are ahead of the national programme, but because Cumbria is such a huge place, there are always difficulties in rolling out such a programme.”

Mr Haywood says which area is connected when depends on technical issues such as the capacity of the network and the volume of users likely to use the service.

“In those areas where it has been connected, the take-up is not as great as anticipated,” he says.

“Technology is moving on and people are looking at digital connection through 4G devices.

“It is an enormous process and some areas will be missing out.

“But it is one of the priorities on our infrastructure plan to accelerate coverage.”

Catherine Weldon, project manager for Connecting Cumbria says businesses have to opt in to the broadband service.

And it is for users to decide who they get to provide the service – that could be BT, Vodafone or Talk Talk.

Some businesses may need their own licensed connection, rather than using a cabinet connection to the internet infrastructure.

Catherine Weldon says: “

“The county target is that we should make superfast broadband available to 116,000 properties by the end of March 2018.

“There will still be remote areas that we are not able to reach because it would not be financially viable.

“But we are looking to reach as many properties as fast as we can and just because somewhere is not connected does not mean we have given up. We are constantly looking at different ways of providing a connection.

“We have just reached Far Sawrey and we have got to places like Ravenglass which was very challenging to get to.

“We started deploying in 2013 and we have gone from 10% coverage of superfast broadband in Cumbria to being able to reach so many in such a short time.

“In three years we have come a long way.”

BT recently switched on another 12 fibre broadband roadside cabinets allowing 900 more premises to access the high-speed service.

The family-run Jacksons Models business in New Street is feeling the benefits.

It specialises in the sale of diecast models to collectors around the world.

Brenda Jackson, who runs the shop with son Daniel, said having high-speed broadband had slashed the time taken to upload new data to their website and boosted their in-house payment system.

Mrs Jackson says: “We upload changes to our website overnight – things like new price listings, new photos and details of items for sale.

“Before the upgrade, we would open up the next morning to discover errors or images missing on the website where they hadn’t uploaded properly because the broadband signal had dropped out.

“Now we don’t have to worry about any of that.”

Businessman Richard Mattinson is still waiting for a connection.

The owner of Stitch and Print on High Street, says he made an appointment with BT to be connected upto the superfast service more than a week ago, but is still waiting.

He says: “We are looking at putting a full phone system in, integrated and everything and we have heard nothing. It is absolutely appalling.”

The BT spokeswoman says: “I believe there is an issue with the back end systems for the order that is proving extremely difficult to resolve which is currently causing the delay. I don’t know when this will be resolved but it is being chased daily to try and progress the order and we would like to apologise for any inconvenience to the customer.”

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