Slow and unreliable broadband continuing to blight rural Wales, says report
Much of rural Wales continues to be blighted by terrible broadband speeds compared with urban areas, a report has said.
A survey on the issue run by National Federation of Women’s Institutes in Wales, the CLA, Farmers’ Union of Wales, NFU Cymru and Wales Young Farmers’ Club had more than 600 responses.
More than 50 % of respondents from rural areas felt that the internet they had access to was not fast and reliable, with Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire particularly poor.
66% in rural areas said that they had been impacted by poor broadband, and only 36% had superfast broadband. In comparison, 67% of respondents in urban areas had superfast broadband.
In a joint statement, the groups said: “Poor digital connectivity evidently impacts directly on our rural communities. It is essential that the next Welsh Government further invests in rural infrastructure to enable rural families, farm businesses and others to capitalise on digital connectivity opportunities and not be left behind.”
They have requested a meeting with Welsh Government ministers on the issue.
The report comes after Openreach last week outlined plans to build ultrafast Full Fibre broadband to around 415,000 across Wales in some of the country’s hardest to serve communities.
A total of 140 exchanges across the country are being upgraded, with the majority of homes and businesses in places such as Abersoch, Bethesda, Borth, Cardigan, Nefyn, Nelson, Narberth, Llantwit Major & Kidwelly set to benefit from the five-year scheme.
More than 20,000 households and businesses on Ynys Môn are set to benefit alongside more than 30,000 in Pembrokeshire, around 30,000 in Powys, more than 20,000 in Gwynedd and approximately 20,000 in Monmouthshire, they said.
The company working in partnership with Welsh Government on the plan.
Connie Dixon, Openreach’s regional director for Wales, said: “Building a new Ultrafast broadband network across Wales is a massive challenge and some parts of the country will inevitably require public funding.
“But our expanded build plan means taxpayer subsidies can be limited to only the hardest to connect homes and businesses. And with investments from other network builders, we’d hope to see that shrink further.
“This is a hugely complex, nationwide engineering project – second only to HS2 in terms of investment.”
Welcoming the announcement, Lee Waters, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Climate Change, said: “Fast, reliable broadband is more important than ever, so seeing more homes and businesses set to be connected is definitely welcome.”
“Through our Superfast Cymru programme we stepped in with a £200m public sector investment to bring superfast broadband coverage across Wales up to 95%, despite broadband not being devolved.
“With the roll-out of even faster, gigabit broadband already gathering pace we continue to work with Openreach to use public funding to support properties in some of the hardest to reach parts of Wales.
“Broadband is a key utility and we’ll continue to support all efforts to boost connections the length of breadth of Wales.”