People in Carmarthenshire who suffer the worst internet speeds in the UK should be compensated, according to a new report. It’s been revealed that almost 14,000 properties in the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr area have inadequate broadband, making it the worst parliamentary constituency in the whole of the UK for broadband speeds, and the report – carried out by the British Infrastructure Group – states that there is a “strong case for automatically compensating broadband customers receiving inadequate speeds”. It also calls on regulator Ofcom to take a more active role in the delivery of compensation to customers who don’t receive the standard of service expected from broadband providers.
One of those providers, BT, has recently announced its aim to provide 99 per cent of premises in the UK with a minimum broadband speed of 10 mbs (megabyte per second) within the next three years, but the report assessed that 13,874 broadband connections in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr may fail to receive that speed.
“I am deeply disappointed by the findings of the report which have shown a lacklustre approach by broadband providers in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and indeed across Carmarthenshire,” said MP Jonathan Edwards.
“The report clearly outlines how Carmarthenshire is very much in the slow lane when compared with the rest of the UK.
“Underlining this dire record by broadband providers and the Labour Welsh Government is the fact that existing broadband infrastructure programmes often overlook rural communities, where rural broadband connectivity seems of secondary importance in an urban area-dominated rush to meet targets.
“There are mounting challenges for our rural communities here in Carmarthenshire, but also across Wales. Ensuring an equal service obligation and the effective provision of broadband in rural areas will be one step in ensuring that rural communities are able to meet these challenges. Our rural communities must not be punished for their geography in the provision of broadband connectivity.”
MP Jonathan Edwards: “Rural communities must not be punished for their geography”
Mr Edwards’ concerns about rural parts of Wales being left behind appear to be stacked up by the fact that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Ceredigion, and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire were all rated in the worst five constituencies in Wales for high speed internet access in 2016. Meanwhile, the best performing five constituencies are all based in and around Cardiff and Swansea.
Percentage of broadband connections slower than 10 mbs in 2016:
– Carmarthen East and Dinefwr: 58.2%
– Ceredigion: 55.1%
– Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire: 49.8%
– Gower: 26.3%
– Swansea East: 25.2%
– Cardiff West: 24.5%
– Cardiff Central: 22.6%
– Swansea West: 20%
Assembly Member Adam Price believes that broadband should be thought of as an “essential service”, rather than something that one should only expect in more urban areas.
“I support the principle that Ofcom should explore automatically compensating broadband customers who consistently fail to receive the speed they pay for,”said Mr Price.
“Slow and unreliable broadband connections can leave rural customers and companies at a significant disadvantage.
“Broadband should be considered an essential service for our rural economies and we will continue to champion this issue over the coming months to ensure that Carmarthenshire can catch up and isn’t left behind in future.”
BT has announced its aim to provide 99 per cent of premises in the UK with a minimum broadband speed of 10 mbs by 2020 (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The Welsh Government says the report is misleading, and that its Superfast Cymru programme already gives people in Carmarthen East and Dinfewr, and further afield, access to a faster broadband service should they wish to utilise it.
“There has been tremendous progress in the availability of superfast broadband across the country thanks to the work of the Welsh Government,” a spokeswoman said.
“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 over eight out of ten premises with access. This compares with just over half in 2014.”
The government also point to the fact that more than 50,000 premises in Carmarthenshire as a whole can now access superfast broadband, and that it is committed to ensuring that fast internet connectivity is available to all.
“While we’re aware of the UK Government’s plans for a 10Mbps+ Universal Service Obligation (USO), the Welsh Government is already working towards offering fast reliable broadband to every property in Wales,” the spokeswoman added.
“As well as Superfast Cymru the Welsh Government also offers schemes such as the Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher which provides assistance for businesses to access speeds of more than 330mbps.”
THIS was the sight greeting residents of New Dock Street in Llanelli as they woke up this morning. A tree fell into the road in the middle of the night as the wet weather rained down on south west Wales. There was no damage caused to vehicles parked on the road, but the tree collided with a telephone wire, meaning there will be some disruption this morning to parts of the town in terms of internet and telephone service.
Superfast Broadband Cymru are currently at the scene, and a Dyfed-Powys Police Officer is also present, awaiting the arrival of Carmarthenshire Council. A clean-up operation is now expected to take place during the day.
People living nearby were out on the streets this morning having a chat to officers about the issue. Today, the Met Office is predicting a fairly damp and cloudy start for the country with patchy light rain and drizzle through the morning.
It may brighten up a little during the afternoon with some sunny intervals in the east, with a maximum temperature of 20 C.
There will be patchy cloud and some clear spells overnight, although with outbreaks of rain and drizzle continuing in places, feeling muggy in the south-east, with a minimum temperature of 15 C.
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