BUSINESSES in Malmesbury and surrounding areas are being hindered by slow internet, it has been claimed.

The roll-out of superfast fibre-optic broadband in the town has been delayed by BT and is forcing many businesses to invest in IT solutions to improve their internet speeds.

Town councillor Gavin Grant runs his own business from home and says that without good broadband his businesses is being put on the back foot.

“Being able to be effective and efficient online is critical to business success,” he said.

“This is the 21st century, everyone knows internet is key.

“People having to wait years for high speed internet is disgraceful.

“This issue was raised at the annual town meeting by concerned residents who said internet will often go down or won’t cope with size of files they need to send.”

The Front Room Marketing & Design in Malmesbury has had to invest in IT solutions to improve business, at personal cost.

Lesley Wood, director of the marketing and design agency, said: “We’ve invested quite heavily to make sure we can run quickly.

“We’ve been doing it since 2012 so we can run the business.”

Rupert Barker is a freelance photographer who works from home in Malmesbury.

He says while his download speeds are fine, his upload speeds are less than 1mbps, about one-third of the national average, even though he lives a stone’s throw from houses with fibre-optic broadband.

“If you’re uploading 500mb of photos to clients, it can get rather tedious,” he said.

“It seems odd that some people in Malmesbury have fibre-optic broadband but not others.

Mary Calderbank, who live in Foxley, is frustrated that BT have delayed bringing fibre-optic broadband to Malmesbury.

“We get rubbish speeds,” she said. “BT have said that [fibre-optic] will happen within four months and have been saying that for 18 months.

“We keep checking on the BT website and every time we look it says it will be completed in 4 months –  it seems to be a rolling 4 months.”

Slow internet plagues many rural areas, a problem that needs to be addressed according to Countryside Alliance head of policy Sarah Lee.

“Nearly half of all premises in rural areas of the UK – that’s 1.5million premises – still receive speeds of lower than 10mbps,” she said.

“One in five rural premises struggle with speeds of 5mbps or lower. This needs to improve.

“High speed broadband is an essential service for modern life and we believe a lack of broadband capacity in rural areas is holding back the countryside, socially and economically.”

Simon Killane of Wiltshire Council believes that internet in modern society is a “basic human right”.

He said: “In our area the internet is vitally important. Lack of access to good internet is an infringement on human rights.

“If you don’t have these things in modern world it can affect the chances of getting jobs.

“When you go on the BT site, it says it will be available later and later.”

Kevin Rutterford, BT’s next generation access programme manager for Wiltshire, said: “The project to roll-out fibre broadband across Wiltshire is a huge engineering task and we are working hard to reach more and more communities as quickly as possible.

“More than 64,000 households and businesses in the county already have access to fibre broadband speeds of more than 24mbps as a result of the Wiltshire Online programme.

“When combined with commercial roll-out across the county the overwhelming majority of homes and businesses in Wiltshire can access fibre broadband today. Developing an excellent broadband service will be a key factor in making Wiltshire the ‘go to place’ for both residents and businesses.

“An additional £3.86m has also been invested into the programme which will see an extra 5,000 premises in the county be able to access superfast fibre broadband.”