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)
Superfast broadband is now reaching nine out ten premises in Wales – transforming the digital landscape despite failing to meet the original 96% target. Since 2014 the increase in access to superfast net speeds has been dramatic for some North Wales counties. In Conwy it went from a shockingly low 5% of premises with access in July 2014 to close to 90% today while in Denbighshire it went from 38% to 81% over the same period.
Every county now has between 80% and 90% access rates (Source: thinkbroadband) – although this remains below the 96% target originally set by the Welsh Government under Superfast Cymru. This improvement has been crucial for the digital economy – opening up opportunities for businesses and making the area more attractive for hi-tech firms looking to relocate.
Percentage of premises able to access fast broadband. Source: thinkbroadband
- Conwy: 88%(5% in 2014)
- Gwynedd: 81% (57%)
- Denbighshire: 81% (38%)
- Anglesey: 80% (58%)
- Flintshire: 89% (77%)
- Wrexham 90% (52%)
Paul Roberts, who founded tech firms Stockomendation and Risc IT Solutions in Llandudno, said the expansion in net speeds was creating opportunities.
We can compete nationally
He said: “Having worked in the digital world in Wales, since 2000 starting Wales first cloud business Risc IT Solutions to now also founding Wales first Fintech 50 business, Stockomendation, I have seen first-hand the changes increased broadband speeds and bandwidth have made to our technology businesses.
“The roll-out of Superfast broadband has increased the adoption of Cloud services supplied by Risc IT Solutions across the UK and not just Wales and continues to expand our reach.
Paul Roberts from Stockomendation
“This has meant quicker access to the increased amounts of data businesses hold, the ability to work from mobile, laptops or tablets and greater security through off site Cloud backup and virtual servers.
“It also allows new ground breaking financial technology companies like Stockomendation to not be tied to central locations like London, so we can compete nationally and internationally with the added bonus of having a fantastic lifestyle living and working in the beauty of North Wales.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Superfast Cymru is making good progress.
“At the end of March over 645,000 premises across Wales were able to access superfast broadband as a result. BT has confirmed it expects to deliver 30Mbps download speeds to around 690,000 premises before the programme closes at the end of December 2017.
‘Whole counties would have no superfast broadband’
“Whole counties such as Gwynedd, Conwy and Anglesey would have no superfast broadband at all without the intervention of Superfast Cymru.
“The most recent Ofcom report showed that Wales has the best superfast broadband availability amongst the devolved nations, with over eight out ten premises with access. This compares with just over half in 2014.
“We are currently consulting on the next stage where we are looking at the final few percent of premises not covered by the Superfast Cymru rollout or by the telecommunications companies’ own plans.
“The consultation is the result of detailed research and includes a list of potential premises without superfast broadband. We would urge those currently without access to take part in this consultation.”
Better overall approach needed
Mike Learmond, FSB North Wales Development Manager, said: “Whilst customers that have benefitted from upgrades to service are seeing the difference, the fact remains that not all businesses are seeing an improved service.
Openreach Engineer laying fibre in a duct as part of BT’s ?2.5bn super-fast broadband programme.
“We need a much better overall approach to digital connectivity which can work to address gaps across networks and providers.
“For example, it is frustrating for businesses that may have access to superfast broadband, but no mobile phone signal or 4G capability when they leave the office.
“Also, now that the infrastructure is in place there is still more work to do to encourage businesses to engage with Superfast Cymru in order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Fibre broadband.”
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “Digital connectivity was once a nice-to-have. It is now essential. And we have come a long way in Wales.
“Thanks to the UK Government’s ?66.9million investment in superfast broadband in Wales, over 645,000 Welsh homes and businesses can now get access to superfast broadband, and an additional 80,000 premises are expected to benefit from this investment by the end of 2017.
“But we need to keep the UK moving with the demands of the digital age.
“Our tremendous progress to date in Wales, coupled with the ?400m funding available through the new Digital Infrastructure Fund will equip Welsh businesses with the tools they need to grow, and Welsh homes with the technology to be part of our online global community.”
From 2018 the Welsh Government will be working on how to reach the final few per cent of premises without access to superfast broadband. So that this work is as accurate as possible it needs to hear from those not yet connected.
A list of potential premises has been published and is open for comments until July 13.
An interactive map can help residents and businesses check if they are already included on the list.
The Welsh Government also wants to hear from communities who have an interest in driving their own solutions. Consultation at https://consultations.gov.wales/consultations/next-generation-access-broadband
SKY Broadband customers across the region are now back online after plagued by over 24 hours of connectivity issues. Outages for both Sky and Talk Talk broadband users across the region were first reported on Friday morning. But this afternoon, engineers have confirmed that all known network issues have now been resolved.
Since Friday morning, connectivity issues had been reported at Flint, Holywell, Mostyn, Rhyl, Wrexham North, Abergele, Amlwch, Bangor, Bethesda, Holyhead, Llanfairfechan, Llangefni, Llanberis, Llanwnda, Menai Bridge, Old Colwyn, Penygroes, Valley, Buckley, Aberconwy, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Llanrwst, Penmaenmawr, Rhuddlan, Rhos on Sea and St Asaph.
A Sky spokesman tweeted: “Customers will now be able to get online & make/receive calls.
“We’re very sorry for the inconvenience.”