Virgin Media is taking legal action against Durham County Council, for what the provider calls a ‘blockade’ on its delivery of ultrafast broadband by asking for increased payments to access the land upon which it hoped to increase its network by laying new fibre optic cable.
The partnership with Durham, which was announced at the end of last year, had been put in place with the aim of extending the provider’s high-speed network to around 16,000 properties in Durham by the end of 2019. Virgin Media said that this would benefit the area by increasing speeds to 350Mb/s.
On the company’s decision to take legal action against the council, Tom Mockridge, chief executive of Virgin Media said: ‘We are disappointed to be taking this action against a council with whom we initially had a good working relationship. By demanding money for land access Durham County Council is now putting up a broadband blockade to thousands of homes and businesses across the county.
‘This significant planned investment by Virgin Media will boost the local economy and provide consumers with a real alternative to BT’s Openreach network. With Virgin Media offering speeds 13 times faster than the local average, holding this fibre rollout to ransom over land fees risks leaving areas of Durham in the broadband slow lane. Durham has no basis for imposing any kind of a land levy in these circumstances and its attitude runs counter to that we have faced from more forward-thinking councils.’