Blackburn broadband firm IXWireless accused of 'ignoring' complaints despite promises

IX Wireless black box described as a trip hazard by residents in Bolton
IX Wireless black box described as a 'trip hazard' by residents in Bolton. Credit: ITV Granada

A company promising ultra fast internet connections has been accused of 'ignoring' residents' complaints - after letters were returned 'unopened'.

Blackburn-based IX Wireless launched in 2017 "to bring 6G digital infrastructure to towns and cities across the North West in a faster and more efficient way than competitors such as Virgin and BT".

The firm uses air-fibre technology by siting cables above ground as opposed to "traditional dig and cover operations".

On its website, it says the roll out is allowed under their 'permitted developments' licence, which means they do not have to apply for planning permission before beginning a new build.

But residents in Bolton have already accused the company of 'street vandalism' by putting up hundreds of poles in areas where they have good connectivity.

Now they say they have not had a replies to their concerns about the poles and masts, and have tracked letters which have been 'returned unopened'.

Bolton resident's tracking showing their complaint to IX Wireless was returned Credit: ITV Granada

Paul Whitehead, who lives on Whitecroft Road in Bolton, has three poles visible at the back of his property and two in his front street.

Now he says attempts have been made to erect a 6ft 'telescopic' mast which may be raised in future, close to his property.

Paul Whitehead telling Elaine Willcox where the masts are close to his home in Bolton Credit: ITV Granada

IX Wireless, which has a head office in Blackburn say on their website it maintains "an open and consistent communication strategy with the public during every stage of a network installation.

"We always encourage community members to offer feedback or suggestions for improvement."

IX Wireless promises an open and consistent communication strategy, residents in Bolton disagree Credit: IX Wireless

ITV Granada Reports asked IX Wireless to respond to the latest concerns from residents in Bolton, via the company's 'Contact Us' form and messages to their head office.

But so far they company has yet to respond.

Workers preparing to install poles and mast for IX Wireless roll out in Bolton Credit: ITV Granada

Meanwhile residents in a cul-de-sac in Bolton say they have tried to object to work being carried out in Kilmory Drive.

Residents say they have been told IX Wireless are putting up a 65 Ft Metal Wireless pole with three metal cabinets about 1.5m tall each.

Part of work which residents believe is IX Wireless' preparation for a broadband mast in quiet cul-de-sac Credit: ITV Granada

One householder said they have 'started digging holes' and 'leaving the land in an unsafe condition with tripping hazards' and 'holes that small children can get their feet trapped in.'

They described the way the company as 'vandals - plain and simple' and a group of residents has been set up to object, because they say contacting the company is proving difficult.

They are also concerned about donations to some of the region's Conservative MPs and have raised the issue with Bolton Borough Council, which says it is 'permitted development'.

Oliver Dowden hailed IX Wireless roll out as a 'levelling up game-changer'. Credit: PA

Oliver Dowden, the former Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), appeared at a virtual launch event for IX Wireless's broadband network in Blackburn, England, in early June.

He called the company's roll out across the north west as "a levelling up game changer" for residents and local businesses.

Seven Conservative MPs in the north west in areas where IX Wireless has networks have declared donations from the company on the MPs Register of Financial Interests since 2021:

  • MP Darren Moore, Southport - £11,00

  • MP Chris Green, Bolton West  - £5000

  • MP Mary Robinson, Cheadle - £2,000

  • MP Christian Wakeford, Bury South - £3,500

  • MP James Daly, Bury North - £3,500

  • MP Andy Carter, Warrington South - £4,551 

  • MP Simon Fell, Barrow and Furness - £5,000

Christian Wakeford says he stands by residents in Bury concerned about IX Wireless's operation Credit: PA

Christian Wakeford said: "Bury South Conservative Association received a donation from IX Wireless which was donated for campaigning costs.

"I received no money personally."

He now stands as a Labour MP after crossing the floor and added, "I continue to stand with residents who have concerns about masts going up in their area."

201022 Bolton MP Chris Green received a £5,000 donation from IX Wireless met residents to discuss their concerns in November Credit: PA

Bolton West MP Chris Green has met residents in his constituency to discuss the lack of consultation and positioning of some of the poles, with one claiming it was hard for her to get out of her drive.

When asked to explain why he received a donation from IX Wireless he told residents it was normal practice for MPs to receive donations from businesses, individuals, or other organisations.

Liberal Democrat, Cllr Roger Hayes, who represents Smithills in Bolton has described the IX Wireless poles as "vandalism" and "unnecessary street clutter".

He has received several complaints from residents in the area and has also been in touch with other officers at Bolton Council to see if there is anything he can do.

He suggested it "would be useful if the MPs provided more information about the donations".

Residents say for a company which claims it is a 21st century broadband provider, telling residents to email them or contact them by post is 'poor'.