A major study has revealed the areas of Wales with the slowest broadband speeds. The map below shows the areas worst served by broadband connections in the lightest colours. Wales has some of the slowest speeds of any part of the UK.
Four of the 10 constituencies with the slowest download speeds in the UK are in Wales, with Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in the top position. This is based on Which? consumer-tested broadband speeds.
This is the UK table of shame, dominated by Wales and Scotland:
1. Carmarthen and Dinefwr
2. Ross, Sky and Lochaber
3. Na h-Eilanan an Iar
4. Orkney and Shetland
Argyll and Bute
6. North Herefordshire
8. Brecon and Radnorshire
9. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
There were another three Welsh constituencies in the worst 20 for broadband speeds, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (15th) and Monmouth (19th).
How the study worked
The researchers for the British Infrastructure Group (BIG)1 also looked at the total number of broadband connections in the constituency. They they used Ofcom data at how many of them had connections of above 10 MB/s (million bits per second) or 24 MB/s.
Families who want to have a number of members watching videos, listening to music or playing games at the same time are advised they would need speeds of around 24 MB/s to avoid problems. Anything below 10 MB/s would be insufficient to reliably stream videos even for a single user. The researchers found that 6.7m UK broadband connections didn’t even reach 10 MB/s and only 40.8% achieved over 24 MB/s.
The constituencies with the least substandard broadband
(% broadband connections slower than 10 Mb/s in 2016)
- Bristol West 11.3%
- Edinburgh South 14.1%
- Edinburgh South West 14.1%
- Hampstead and Kilburn 14.5%
- Westminster North 14.7%
- Reading East 15%
- Sutton and Cheam 15.1%
- Belfast South 15.3%
- Leicester South 15.3%
The Welsh constituencies with the least substandard broadband
(% broadband connections slower than 10 Mb/s in 2016)
Swansea West 20.0%
- 2. Cardiff Central 22.6%
- 3. Cardiff West 24.5%
- 4. Swansea East 25.2%
- 5. Gower 26.3%
- =6 Newport East 26.8%
- =6 Aberavon 26.8%
- 7. Cardiff South and Penarth 28.7%
- 8. Cardiff North 28.9%
- 9. Neath 29.4%
- 10. Newport West 30.0%
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Governments must ‘stop passing the buck’
More than 50 MPs from across the party divides have come together to press for action amid concern that nearly seven million connections may not deliver the proposed minimum standard.
Dwyfor Meirionnydd Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts, one of the supporters of the report, said: “Far too many people across Wales are unable to access what Ofcom recognises as the speed required for basic tasks such as web browsing, streaming and video calling, and this digital divide undoubtedly contributes to the wider economic divide, depressing wages and living standards. The British Government and the Welsh Government must stop passing the buck and commit to connecting the whole of Wales with ultra-fast broadband.”
It is understood that less than half of all UK connections receive superfast speeds of 24 Mb/s. The MPs say it is “almost impossible” to determine how many households do not receive the speeds set out in their contracts.
Lack of access is ‘stifling the potential of local business’
Newly elected Gower MP Tonia Antoniazzi
Gower Labour MP Tonia Antoniazzi, another supporter of the report, said: “Access to fast broadband is a fundamental requirement for rural economies to thrive. Gower continues to lack consistent connectivity across the constituency, this includes mobile coverage.
“Gower is home to a mix of micro and small and medium businesses, from creative industries to food production. It is essential for my constituents and their businesses to be served with high quality broadband and mobile coverage.
“There are 7,408 broadband connections in Gower not meeting the basic minimum download speed. This is a matter which the UK Government and providers must address immediately.
“I fear lack of access to decent broadband is stifling the potential of local business and preventing growth within the region.”
Grant Shapps, the former Conservative chairman who chairs the group, said: “Although broadband is increasingly considered to be an essential utility, the quality of customer services has simply not caught up with demand. It is unacceptable that there are still no minimum standards in the UK telecoms sector to protect customers from protracted complaints procedures, and ensure that broadband providers are fully accountable to their customers.”
The MPs say it is “unacceptable” Ofcom has not considered automatic compensation for households that consistently get a poor service below what they are paying for.
Governments have ‘dragged their heels for too long’
Ceredigion Plaid Cymru MP Ben Lake (Image: Marian Delyth)
Ceredigion Plaid Cymru MP, Ben Lake, one of the backers of the report, said: “Poor broadband speed, as well as poor mobile data signal not only impacts on residents but on businesses who are unable to reach beyond their local areas.
“Digital connectivity simply isn’t good enough in Ceredigion and in many other parts of Wales and the result is our rural communities are being cut off.
“Whilst businesses in cities such as Cardiff could feasibly rely on passing trade, rural areas have to go beyond their local high street. It is vital that we ensure businesses, and every resident in Wales, including rural Wales, have access to high-speed broadband and mobile data signal. Westminster and the Welsh Government have dragged their heels for too long – we’ve waited long enough.”
This year’s Digital Economy Act set out a so-called universal service obligation across the country, which defined a minimum broadband download speed of 10 Mb/s.
This is what the Welsh Government is doing:
The Welsh Government insists it is making progress on broadband
A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “There has been tremendous progress in the availability of superfast broadband across the country thanks to the work of the Welsh Government. Over 647,000 premises can now access it in Wales as a result of the Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru programme.
“The latest Ofcom report shows that Wales has the highest availability of superfast broadband among the devolved nations, largely thanks to the Superfast Cymru programme, with eight out of 10 premises with access. This compares with just over half in 2014.
“Areas such as Gwynedd, Conwy and Anglesey would have no access to superfast broadband without the intervention of Superfast Cymru. Now, for example, over 49,000 premises in Gwynedd can access it…
“We know there is more to do to reach the final premises including those not part of the Superfast Cymru rollout, and we are already looking at how to do this. We’ve recently announced potential funding of ?80m to reach the small percentage of premises not part of the Superfast Cymru project or commercial rollout.
“Once superfast broadband has been made available people will not receive it automatically. If they wish to receive it they will need to contact their internet service provider in order to change their package so that they can receive the faster speeds.
“Our Access Broadband Cymru scheme can also offer assistance to those currently not able to access superfast broadband by providing grant aid to receive it through other technologies.”
See how your constituency ranks for high speed internet access
(% broadband connections slower than 10 Mb/s in 2016)
- 1. Carmarthen East and Dinefwr 58.2%
- 2. Montgomeryshire 58.0%
- 3. Ceredigion 55.1%
Dwyfor Meirionnydd 50.9%
- 5. Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire 49.8%
- 6. Monmouth 49.1%
- 7. Brecon and Radnorshire 48.9%
- 8. Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney 47.3%
- 9. Aberconwy 44.3%
- 10. Islwyn 44.2%
- 11. Preseli Pembrokeshire 44.1%
- 12. Clwyd South 43.8%
- 14. Alyn and Deeside 43.1%
- 15. Delyn 42.8%
- 16. Wrexham 42.0%
- 17. Rhondda 41.6%
- =18. Clwyd West 41.2%
- =18. Torfaen 41.2%
- 19. Cynon Valley 40.9%
- 20. Anglesey 40.5%
- 22. Llanelli 39.8%
- 23. Ogmore 38.9%
- 24. Pontypridd 37.4%
- 25. Arfon 35.9%
- =26. Blaenau Gwent 32.6%
- =26. Vale of Glamorgan 32.6%
- 27. Vale of Clwyd 32.1%
- 28. Newport West 30.0%
- 30. Cardiff North 28.9%
- 31. Cardiff South and Penarth 28.7%
- =32. Aberavon 26.8%
- =32. Newport East 26.8%
- 33. Gower 26.3%
- 34. Swansea East 25.2%
- 35. Cardiff West 24.5%
- 36. Cardiff Central 22.6%
Swansea West 20.0%
- ^ http://www.britishinfrastructuregroup.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Broadbad-2.0-Final-2.pdf (www.britishinfrastructuregroup.uk)
From the Office of Representative Raul Ruiz1: Representative Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) discussed the importance of increasing access to broadband internet in rural areas, like those in his Congressional District, with the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai during a Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing. A transcript of his remarks is below and you can click here2 to view his remarks. A copy of a letter that Dr.
Ruiz sent to the FCC in December 2015 supporting broadband deployment can also be found here3. Representative Raul Ruiz: “Oversight and Reauthorization of the Federal Communications Commission,” Subcommittee on Communications and Technology (Tuesday, July 25, 2017)
Thank you, Chairwoman. I want to thank the chairman and Commissioners for being here – the FCC is responsible for a vast array of issues and I welcome the opportunity to discuss a couple of them today. Diving right in – I want to talk about broadband deployment.
One of the most important tools the FCC uses to encourage broadband deployment is through the Connect America Fund, which helps make deploying and maintaining broadband internet possible in remote and rural and underserved areas across our nation. These are areas like Mecca, Thermal, Coachella in my district where I grew up – where it’s rural area, farm worker area – we also have some tribes, or a tribe that also exists in that area. And we know that there are some classrooms in the Coachella Valley School District that doesn’t have access to good Internet, where teachers have to print out a YouTube video and show them as slides, so that the kids can get the information.
The CV Unified School District and the community worked together to provide every student K-12 an iPad or a tablet to boost achievement and narrow that digital divide. Often times when I grew up there we had dilapidated books and we didn’t have the most recent copyrighted book as well. Unfortunately, however, broadband deployment across the region remains spotty at best, limiting the ability for students to take full advantage of this technology.
In December of 2015 I wrote to the FCC, in favor of Frontier Communication’s proposal to acquire Verizon’s wireline networks, and supporting their commitment and working together with my office, to utilize the Connect America Fund to deploy high speed internet in those underserved areas in my District. And I urged the FCC to support Frontier’s efforts to deploy broadband in my communities, and to hold Frontier accountable to their commitments to closing the digital divide through their acceptance of Connect America Funding. And so my first question to Chairman Pai,
RR: Are you committed to ensuring all Connect American Fund recipients are fulfilling their responsibilities under the program?
CP: Absolutely Congressman, yes. RR: And how are you going to monitor that progress? CP: Two different ways. Up front, we have required the recipients of that funding to build out to 40% territory by the end of this year, 20% by the end of 2018, 20% by 2019, and the final 20% by the end of 2020.
We require reporting obligations throughout, and on the back end there is accountability. If they do not build what they said they would build out then we will require the accelerating rate right back.
CR: Thank you. This is obviously a critical program not only for the people and families I represent, but the millions of Americans who still lack access to broadband. Now, switching gears, my next question is about addressing the challenge of and in some cases the utter lack of diversity in media programming, ownership, and viewpoints. For me, this isn’t about some statistic, it’s about the children in our communities who deserve to see their stories, their communities, their experiences, their role models, and their culture portrayed on the screen in a positive light.
It’s about giving our young people more inspiration and more role models to look up to on the screen and behind the screens. And when they believe that they can dream big, and fight to make those dreams come true, our nation as a whole reaps the benefits. I firmly believe that we need to see real progress, real change, and we are going to need to improve the diversity of those decision-makers at the top.
As we’ve seen several mergers over the years and the evolution of how people consume media content, we must ensure that diversity in programming and content is not diminishing. As the agency who has overseen numerous mergers over the years, the FCC has a responsibility to take public interest into account in determining whether to approve a particular proposal. Chairman Pai, very briefly if you don’t mind because I do have another question:
RR: Does the FCC consider diversity when reviewing proposed mergers under the public interest lens?
CP: That is one of the factors that goes into our analysis, typically. RR: Good. And Commissioner Clyburn, you have been a champion for this issue in the past.
RR: How do you think the FCC and Congress can work to improve diversity on and off the camera? CC: I think one reason, one way, is through ownership. Just stamping every merger that comes our way is not going to help in terms of diversifying the ecosystem. A tax certificate program that worked extremely well, an incubator program that I think will work extremely well, that where we could possibly relax some of our ownership obligations. Those are two proven ways I believe that we could further infuse and diversify the marketplace.
RR: Good, I look forward to working with you both on this particular issue in the future. Thank you, I yield back. embedded content Photo credit to Renee Schiavone
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Originally published July 26, 2017.
Satellite Solutions Worldwide Group PLC (LON:SAT1), which specialises in the provision of rural and last-mile broadband services, has been on an acquisition-frenzy since floating on AIM in May 2015. Its most recent trading update highlighted the success of its strategy of augmenting organic growth with bought-in growth. The group, which has a stated target of achieving 100,000 customers by the end of the year, revealed in a trading update covering the six months to the end of May 2017 that customer numbers are now around 90,000, up 14% since the start of the year, with particularly strong growth in Australia.
Total revenue in the first half of the current financial year soared 261% to ?20.6mln from ?5.7mln the year before, helped by the contribution of recent acquisitions; even so, like-for-like organic revenue growth was 13.1%. Recurring revenue rose 281% year-on-year to ?19.4mln from ?5.1mln the previous year, and accounts for 94% of total revenue. Gross margin in the reporting period improved to 37.0% from the 34.0% seen in the preceding 12-month period.
Spend, spend, spend!
The group kicked off 2017 by announcing in January it was stumping up some ?870,000 for the customers and related assets of SES Techcom Services customer Auvea Ingenierie (Viveole), a provider of satellite broadband services in France. Viveole has around 1,900 residential and business customers, and cements the group’s position as the second largest satellite broadband provider in France. Satellite Solutions has also negotiated improved terms on a satellite capacity agreement with SES Techcom.
The contract means improved commercial terms on existing business, plus new satellite broadband capacity to support Satellite Solutions Worldwide’s (SSW) sales in its primary European markets. SSW said the extra capacity is enough to handle some 5,000 new customers, and ensures continuity of supply of bandwidth into early 2019 in the UK and French markets. In an interview with Proactive Investors in January, the group’s chief technology officer Simon Clifton said he saw 2017 as “a massive opportunity for both organic growth and acquisitions” and hopes to make more announcements throughout the year.
“Satellite capacity is a buyer’s market and it works not dissimilar to other commodity markets in Europe,” he said.
“The larger you are, the more you combine, therefore the better the price you can get.”
Shortly after Clifton’s remarks, the company agreed to buy Australian broadband provider BorderNET, as well as the customer bases of Norwegian broadband solutions providers NextNet and AS Distriktsnett (ASDN), for a total of ?1.8mln. BorderNET has around 3,500 residential and business customers in Australia and specialises in providing broadband services to farming and remote communities. The two Norwegian firms – NextNet and ASDN – are both fixed wireless broadband solutions providers, although NextNet also has a focus on ADSL broadband as well.
NextNet has 1,680 customers while ASDN has about 330 residential and business customers in the west of Norway. Last summer, SSW boosted its presence in both of the regions after it snapped up Norwegian firm Breiburg and Aussie group Skymesh for a total of ?11.7mln. Those deals were completed just a few weeks after Satellite took out its UK rival Avonline for ?10mln.
Broadband access the growth driver
SSW is an Internet service provider but the twist is it delivers the connection via satellite. It provides its services to businesses as a back-up to the traditional line or cable based service; the construction sector also uses SSW, as do broadcasters. However, its stock in trade, the part that generates most of the sales, is connecting remote communities across Europe to a workable, reliable and reasonably fast Internet services.
These are the areas where it is just not cost effective to introduce traditional broadband. In Wales, for instance, there are 40,000 rural households that don’t have what nowadays would be considered bog standard Internet access. In all, anywhere from 5-15% of the population of Europe requires a service such as SSW’s.
There are plenty of providers – around 50 here and on the Continent. Some are loss-making, while others are unwanted appendages of larger organisations. For the satellite owners – firms such as Eutelsat, SES and Avanti – there are too many of these intermediaries to deal with.
So, it makes the sector a classic consolidation play.
Broadband consolidation important
“With pressure from the networks to consolidate this is what we are doing,” CEo Andrew Walwyn told Proactive Investors.
“We are bringing businesses together – it is very much a roll-up strategy.
“We are taking different businesses, taking customers and introducing a far lower overhead.”
Walwyn reckons the current 50 operators could be whittled down to just five big players over the next five years, so the opportunity to increase scale (and create the economies that come with size) are there.
Turning the corner and heading into the black
At 7.25p per share, SSW is currently valued at ?39mln. The company’s house broker is forecasting a move into profitability with earnings per share of 0.10p, which means the shares trade on a poky earnings multiple of 72.5, but this falls to 36.25 based on the broker’s forecast of earnings doubling the following year to 0.2p per share.
Full-year revenues are tipped to clock in at ?40.6mln; given that the company’s revenues in the first half of the year were a little over half that, and that the customer take-up rate is accelerating, the full-year revenue forecast looks a little on the conservative side, opening up the possibility of a little bit of earnings outperformance.
- ^ LON:SAT (www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk)
- ^ Satellite Solutions sees 2017 as “massive opportunity” for organic growth and acquisitions (www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk)
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