A Which? report has found that Ceredigion is one of the worst local authority areas for broadband speeds in the whole of the UK.
Which? analysed speed checker data in local authority areas across the UK to determine the best and worst broadband connections in the country.
The data suggest that Ceredigion was one of the worst affected local authority areas with a speed of 7.5mbps.
Gwynedd, Carmarthenshire and Powys were also towards the bottom of the list, with average speeds of 10.6mbps, 10.1mbps and 7.7mbps.
Cardiff had the highest speeds in Wales with an average of 18.2mbps.
Russell George, The Conservative’s Shadow Minister for the Economy & Infrastructure said that the results were disappointing, considering that the Welsh Government has spent £425m bringing broadband up to speed.
“Broadband is now considered the fourth utility, is an essential part of modern life and is no longer a ‘nice to have’ luxury,” he said.
“We must do all we can to guard against a situation whereby the digital divide between the urban ‘haves’ and the rural “have nots” widens further, damaging the rural economy of Wales.
“It is right to say that Superfast Cymru has delivered fibre broadband to those who would have never received it without public intervention.
“But over £425 million has already been spent on phase 1 of Superfast Cymru so you would expect rural areas of Wales to be performing better when it comes to broadband speeds and connectivity.
“I would encourage everyone to check with their provider or use Which’s free speed checker or switching tool to see if they can benefit from upgrading their connection or switching to an alternative provider.
“But in the majority of cases, it’s ongoing infrastructure issues rather than consumer choice which prevents those in rural areas of Wales such as Ceredigion or Powys from accessing high-speed broadband.”
Which? found that Allerdale, Argyll and Bute, Ceredigion, Moray, the Orkney islands and the Shetland Islands were the worst affected local authority areas overall.
Speeds in these areas averaged around 7mbps, but dipped to 3mpbs in Orkney.
Broadband users in some of these areas might find it hard to carry out online banking or to use streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer due to slow internet connections, they said.
Netflix recommends a speed of 3Mbps for SD quality streaming – but HD quality calls for a recommended speed of 5Mbps.
iPlayer programmes stream at speeds between 1.5Mbps and 5Mbps depending on the quality.
“While it is welcome news that phase 2 of Superfast Cymru has recently been announced by the Welsh Government, it’s beyond me why it’s taken the best part of a year for them to award this contract to Openreach,” Russel George said.
“There should have been a seamless transition between phase one and two of the scheme but almost a year has gone by and this has clearly added to the frustration of people who remain without any broadband at all, not alone high-speed broadband.
“Questions still remain about phase 2, including exactly how many premises are going to be provided with fibre broadband, what type of connections will be used for the rollout, what timescale will they be working to and how many premises will remain stranded and without high speed broadband after phase 2 concludes.”
‘Must be delivered’
Ceredigion AM Elin Jones said that she would seek a meeting with the Welsh Government to urge action.
“This discovery by Which? will be of no surprise to many constituents in Ceredigion who still struggle to get a decent connection to accomplish the simplest of online tasks,” she said.
“School homework, internet banking, emailing, using social media and streaming services take a long time, and in many cases are impossible to do at home for many people. Netflix, for example, requires a minimum speed of 3mbps for its most basic streaming, which is still unachievable for many.
“I am pressing for a meeting with the new minister responsible for rolling out Superfast Broadband, Lee Waters, in the coming weeks. The next stage of broadband rollout must be delivered quickly and efficiently.
“Many people will know that the Government have compiled a list of properties in Ceredigion that will be included in the next roll out process, along with BT who will be undertaking the work. I am hoping that I will have access to that list and will be able to confirm which premises will be in scope.
“However, many premises will remain out of scope for the next rollout, and those residents and business owners will be disappointed. I’ll be hoping that the minister will be able to give me a further idea of how the Government will support these constituents in gaining access to cost-effective alternatives.
“I would like to urge constituents to contact my office if you have any questions regarding your broadband connection.”