Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Broadband Access is a right not a privilege

I sometimes get frustrated with my Broadband speed but it clear that there are many  in Wales who face a very poor service indeed.

The BBC reports that 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, dominated by Wales and Scotland:

1. Carmarthen and Dinefwr
2. Ross, Sky and Lochaber
3. Na h-Eilanan an Iar
4. Orkney and Shetland
5. Argyll and Bute
6. North Herefordshire
7. Montgomeryshire
8. Brecon and Radnorshire
9. Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross
10. Ceredigion
There were another three Welsh constituencies in the worst 20 for broadband speeds, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire (15th) and Monmouth (19th)
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.
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.”
When it comes to attracting new business to your area Broadband access is now something to be taken into consideration in exactly other forms of access such as good transport connections  and we can't afford to see anywhere in Wales left behind.



It is not just Business that suffers though it i an important ,Broadband access is now not just a useful tool but a absolutely vital part of peoples lives .

Access to Government Information is now almost entirely digital and Job seekers for example are required to use the Internet on a daily basis.

Also there is no point in people using the BBC I player if they cant steam programmes  from their area and I wonder if it is right that people should pay the same licence fee as those who have fast access?

Twenty years ago we would sir around our computer screens with our Dial up connection waiting for a program to load , Alas for too many in Wales , they have not seem much improvement from the dial up era.

The world has changed and we should regard speedy Broadband Access  as a right not a privilege in the same way we regard access to public transport another area where parts of Wales lose out.

One thing that might improve both is that as Liz Saville Roberts has said  Westminster and the Welsh Governments must stop "passing the buck".

A clear statement of who is responsible for  Broadband Access in Wales and their plans to end the dire connections for far to many  would be a welcome start to ending it.

3 comments:

  1. In Finland, a country with a small population and many small and isolated communities broad band access is a legal right for every citizen. They invest heavily in education, trading and research and have one of the best trained work forces in the world. They are also about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their independence from the Russian empire.

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  2. A map in a recent edition of the i showed the constituencies with the 10 worst download speeds. Five were in Scotland, four were in Wales and two were in England. The map showed the percentage of connections below 10 Mb/s
    Carmarthen East & Dinefwr 58.2%
    Montgomeryshire 58%
    Ceredigion 55.1%
    Dwyfor Meirionnydd 50.9%
    The government is considering bringing high speed connections to the 1.4 million homes and businesses left behind the internet revolution. The connections would be made from 2020 onwards and only after the customers had gone through a lengthy process of requesting access.
    This government has its foot on the throat of rural businesses and sees no reason to do anything about it anytime soon.

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  3. I am really quite surprised that no-one in Wales seems to have picked up on what has happened in north Lancashire, a rural area with many of the same problems as much of rural, (and not so rural) Wales. Faced with BT's continuous false promises, (which only involved stop gaps that allowed them to continue to use an infrastructure that was designed to cope with telephone calls) they set up their own not-for-profit community benefit company, B4RN which provides 1 Gb/s synchronous, (that is, 1 Gb/s download, and 1 Gb/s upload, or about 100 times the average internet speed, and amongst the highest in the world) fibre broadband to the premises. The cost is reasonable too, with an upfront cost of £150 and a monthly charge of £30.

    It beggars belief that the WAG hasn't realised that relatively modest investment in bringing world class broadband to everyone in Wales, no matter where they live would be the one investment in stimulating the economy that Wales really needs. It might even help develop the economy to the point where tourism becomes much less important to local economies, and that can never be a bad thing!

    You can find out more about B4RN and the way it works here:

    https://b4rn.org.uk

    I think it's a brilliant idea, and a great fit for much, (most?) of Wales.

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