New report finds Carlisle broadband speeds among worst in country
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