Call for BT to upgrade ‘outdated’ Sidmouth exchange

Sidmouth Town Council. Photo by Kyle Baker.

Sidmouth Town Council. Photo by Kyle Baker. - Credit: Archant

Civic leaders are calling on a telecoms giant to act now and upgrade an ‘outdated’ exchange – rather than waiting for more complaints to come in.

Sidmouth Town Council’s May meeting heard that many residents, faced with silence when they made or received calls, had been advised to buy new phones.

Businesses have also been prevented from taking card payments so members voted to make representations to BT and seek assurances about when the exchange will be upgraded.

But BT was unaware of any further issues since a repair last week and said Sidmouth boasts modern digital equipment, capable of providing the latest services.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, who proposed the motion, said: “For about a year there’s been a problem where you can dial out and the person on the other end can hear you, but you can’t hear them. I complained to BT and they said it must be something internal and I would have to pay £130 to sort the problem.”

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He said, as suggested, he bought a new phone, but the problem persisted, and eventually an engineer determined that the issue was with the exchange.

Cllr Hughes added: “There are many other local residents who have experienced the same problem – this is far-reaching and isn’t going to go away.”

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Cllr Paul Wright, who seconded the motion, said BT is aware of the issue – but it only acts when people complain.

Cllr Marc Kilsbie, a shopkeeper, said as well as being unable to take calls, some businesses had been unable to process card payments.

The issue was first raised at the annual town assembly last month – and a BT spokesman said it was sorted at the time and the company had not been made aware of any ‘significant problems’ with the exchange since then.

He added: “If any customers are experiencing any problems with their phone service, it is very important that they report them to their service provider, who can then investigate.”

Responding to claims the exchange is ‘outdated’, the spokesman said: “The Sidmouth exchange contains modern digital equipment, which is capable of providing the latest services, such as superfast broadband.”

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