Origin firms facing three weeks off-line

Jon Barton and Jane Beagley of Vertebrate Graphics
Jon Barton and Jane Beagley of Vertebrate Graphics

Seven days after the Origin Broadband disaster, the boss of a Sheffield media company has described the disastrous impact of not having internet for a week.

Vertebrate Graphics was plunged into the dark ages of connectivity when the Digital Region broadband network was switched off on Friday - and the company was cut off without warning.

Staff at the firm, based on Psalter Lane, Nether Edge, arrived at work to find they had no internet and no email.

It was one of hundreds of customers of Doncaster-based internet service provider Origin Broadband who lost connection after the company failed to set up its own network before the deadline and had no Plan B.

Vertebrate boss Jon Barton said it was the worst week the firm had faced - and had cost £10,000 in lost revenue.

Since Monday the company had spent a small fortune on wireless connectivity - using expensive 4G dongles - some staff had worked from home and they had been forced to deliver CDs by hand to customers as far away as York.

The video-on-demand arm of the company - Steep Edge - had been dormant for a week due to its huge bandwidth requirements.

He added: “The biggest problem has been the massive uncertainty. We couldn’t get through to Origin and didn’t know if our internet was suddenly going to come back. I think it’s inexcusable they didn’t keep people up to date.”

In the end Vertebrate signed up with another network - but won’t be back online until September 3 - a gap of almost three weeks.

Jon added: “It’s definitely the biggest loss of business issue we’ve ever had in 20 years’ trading.

“It’s shows how virtually everything depends on a connection, even our printers are on WiFi.”

Origin had an estimated 1,600 customers on Digital Region. Many thought the firm would move them on to another network with no internet down time.

Hundreds bombarded the firm’s forums, Facebook page and Twitter feed with complaints. Industry regulator Ofcom is investigating.