BASINGSTOKE has been singled out as a broadband “notspot”, according to nationwide research.

Many areas in the town and the surrounding area are too far away from the telephone exchange to get a service above 2Mbps, the study commissioned by the BBC found.

E-Hampshire, an organisation working with Hamp-shire’s local authorities to improve broadband, believes the present service is at odds with Basingstoke’s status as a “diamond for growth” area.

Glenn Peacey, E-Hampshire programme manager, said: “Basingstoke should, therefore, have the best infrastructure available in the south east, but it is not there yet.”

The speed problems stem from having one telephone exchange in the town centre, in Victoria Street, serving a much larger area than it was intended for.

After new areas mushroomed around the original town after the 1960s, such as Chineham, Kempshott, Hatch Warren and Beggarwood, many are too far away from the old exchange to get up-to-date speeds.

Large firms have their own “leased line”, which deliver fast speeds wherever they are located. But Mr Peacey said this option is too expensive for smaller businesses or people working from home.

He said: “There are a lot of highly skilled and talented individuals in this area and, in order to allow them to harness those skills, they need access to a decent infrastructure.”

Basingstoke MP Maria Miller has criticised the Government for not investing enough in broadband despite earmarking the area for massive expansion.

She said: “The Government has set one of the highest house building targets in the south east, yet there is insufficient investment in critical infrastructure, such as broadband.”

Mrs Miller added she would be pressing the Government ahead of its final Digital Britain report, due out next month, on what it intends to do to support Basingstoke.

Chineham Councillor Martin Biermann, who lives at Hartswood House, Reading Road, Chineham, where he also runs his printing business, described the BT broadband service he receives “as abysmal”.

He added: “As a councillor, I get feedback on the service – and on all counts it’s nil points.”

Philip Sorkin, who lives in a “notspot” in White Lane, Oakley, said he struggled to get above 512kbs. He works from home as a chauffeur and uses the web to find maps, train and flight times, but the slow speed make this frustrating.

Emma Littlejohn, media relations manager for BT South East, said BT is committed to finding different ways of building a better signal.

She said: “We want to build a 21st century service and we are committed to this.”