Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies and Assembly Member Russell George are calling for those affected to be compensated. The new British Infrastructure Group report has listed the worst performing parliamentary constituencies in the UK for slow broadband connection speeds. Seven of the top 10 are in Wales, with Montgomeryshire again in the list, ranked in sixth place.
Mr Davies said the latest figures should act as a wake-up call to BT Openreach. He said: “The situation is still appalling, and I think the poor speeds in Montgomeryshire are disgraceful.
“I was one of a number of MPs who have been unhappy about this in the past.
“I am hoping the publication of this report and the publicity around it will cause something to happen, it should act as a wake up call for BT.
“It is disastrous that speeds are still like this and I too back calls like other MPs for customers to be compensated.”
In reaction to the report the Welsh Government have said there has been progress in the availability of superfast broadband through its Superfast Cymru programme. They said figures have shown eight out of ten properties have access to superfast broadband compared to just five in 2014, and that the recent ?80 million of funding made available will help to reach the premises not involved in the scheme.
In June, Mr George raised concerns about the superfast broadband scheme and how effective it is for his constituents. He said: “The original open market review identified 45,000 premises in Wales that would not benefit from the project but this has now grown to 98,000 – more than double the original number. Advertising
“The project is also still plagued with communications issues, which see residents being told one month that they’ll have access to fibre broadband by a certain date, only to be told a few weeks later that they won’t receive it at all.
“This is unacceptable and I have sought assurances from the Welsh Government that any successor scheme has a contractual obligation built into it that will see an improvement in public communications.”
Mr Davies said he believes the issue is hampering businesses, and that BT Openreach should become a separate company to BT itself in order for problems to be resolved. The MP also said people are ‘increasingly frustrated’ at the situation. He added: “Constituents are still getting in touch and becoming increasingly frustrated.
“For many businesses broadband is essential to being able to compete.
“It is as important as electricity and running water in this day and age and it is having a big impact for people who can’t get proper speeds.
“Last week BT made promises about speeds as they expected an outcry following this report, so we have to make sure they keep their foot to the fire about it.
“I think BT Openreach should be a stand alone company, then BT could put the pressure on them for quicker broadband speeds to be delivered.”
The data in the report also included rankings for other areas of Wales such as Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, where 58.2 per cent of broadband connections are still slower than 10mbps.
Montgomeryshire was ranked the sixth worst, with Ceredigion eighth and Brecon and Radnorshire 14th.
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%
Video Loading Video Unavailable Click to play Tap to play The video will start in 8Cancel
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)
Broadband speeds across north Cumbria and south west Scotland are among the worst in the country, according to new figures. A report by an influential group of MPs published today warns that millions of UK broadband connections may not reach a proposed minimum standard. The “Broadbad 2.0” report has found that as many as 6.7 million connections may not receive download speeds above the Government’s proposed minimum of 10 megabits per second (Mb/s).
In a list of Parliamentary constituencies the report says 48 per cent of connections in Carlisle are below the 10Mb/s proposed download speed. Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale in southern Scotland is not far behind in the list of the 20 worst areas, with 47 per cent. Figures for other local constituencies are 46.6 per cent of connections not meeting the proposed minimum speed in Penrith and the Border, 43 per cent in Copeland, 36.7 per cent across Workington, and 33.3 per cent in Barrow.
More than 50 MPs who are members of the British Infrastructure Group (BIG) are now calling for urgent improvements. The BIG of MPs want automatic compensation for families who do not get the internet speeds they pay for, with Ofcom urged to get tougher on broadband providers. They also want greater transparency between the take-up and availability of superfast broadband around the country.
Less than half of all UK connections are thought not to receive superfast speeds of 24 Mb/s, according to the group’s research. Ofcom previously found 1.4 million people have download speeds below 10 Mb/s, while the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said millions of people had not signed up to superfast broadband. Former Tory party chairman Grant Shapps, who chairs the group of MPs, 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.”
Analysis of download speed data recorded by Ofcom in 2015 and 2016 suggested 40.8 per cent of all broadband connections reached speeds above the threshold for superfast broadband. Ofcom figures in 2016 also found that more than three quarters of premises with standard broadband could get superfast broadband if they upgraded. The new cross-party report, backed by 57 MPs, says it is “unacceptable” Ofcom has not considered automatic compensation for households that consistently get a poor service below what they are paying for.
Ofcom’s voluntary code of practice with providers such as BT and Virgin Media commits them to provide accurate and transparent information on speeds, and allows customers to exit their contract without penalty if speeds fall below a minimum threshold. An Ofcom spokesman said: “We share concerns that broadband must improve, and we’re already taking firm, wide-ranging action to protect customers – including new plans for automatic compensation, faster repairs and installations, and ensuring providers commit to giving accurate speed information to customers.
“We also provide robust, comprehensive data on broadband take-up and availability, through regular reports and interactive consumer tools.”
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. A DCMS spokesman said: “Almost 95 per cent of the UK can now get superfast broadband, but we know millions of homes and businesses have not yet chosen to upgrade.
“We want everyone to have access to fast broadband, and the universal service obligation will make sure that no-one is left behind.
“It’s a better offer than any compensation package as it places a legal obligation on providers to deliver the speeds that families and businesses need.”
Here is a list of the worst parliamentary constituencies for download speeds, with the percentage of connections below 10 Mb/s
1. Ross, Skye and Lochaber, Scotland 65.6
2. Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland 63.7
=3. Argyll and Bute, Scotland 61.7
=3. Orkney and Shetland, Scotland 61.7
5. Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Wales 58.2
6. Montgomeryshire, Wales 58
7. Kingston upon Hull East, Yorkshire and the Humber 56.8
8. Ceredigion, Wales 55.1
North Herefordshire, West Midlands 54.9
10. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Scotland 52.2
11. Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Wales 50.9
12. Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, Wales 49.8
=13. Brecon and Radnorshire, Wales 48.9
=13. Hereford and South Herefordshire, West Midlands 48.9
15. Carlisle, North West 48
16. Midlothian, Scotland 47.5
=17. Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Scotland 47.3
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney, Wales 47.3
19. Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, Scotland 47
=20. Central Devon, South West 46.8
Torridge and West Devon, South West 46.8