Thousands of Powys homes stuck with poor broadband

Thousands of homes in Powys have internet below the minimum standard for broadband speeds, new figures show.
Wednesday 6th July 2022 3:16 pm
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Credit by Dominic Lipinski (PA Wire )

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Thousands of homes in Powys have internet below the minimum standard for broadband speeds, new figures show.

Since March 2020, broadband providers have been required to meet a “universal service obligation”, meaning everyone has the legal right to a “decent, affordable” connection.

This is defined as a download speed of at least 10mb/s and an upload speed of 1mb/s, for a maximum of £45 a month.

If customers cannot access internet at this speed, they can ask their local network provider to set up a connection – although internet providers are excused if the cost to them is over £3,400.

New data from Ofcom shows there were 2,944 homes suffering from broadband below these speeds in name as January – making it one of the worst places in the UK for slow broadband.

A 10mb/s connection is the minimum standard for being able to stream video and make face-to-face calls – both of which have surged as working from home has become normalised over the pandemic.

Homes suffering from extremely slow speeds still made up a minority in Powys, accounting for 5% of households in the area.

Meanwhile, 13,773 properties (20%) in Powys can access “ultrafast” broadband – with speeds of 300mb/s or more – up from 11% five years ago, in June 2017.

Ofcom saidwhile new fibre-optic broadband had improved internet speeds for millions, some remain at risk of being left behind.

A spokesperson said: “Some homes in hard-to-reach areas still struggle to get decent broadband, so there’s more work to do to make sure these communities get the connections they need.”

Across the UK, nearly 100,000 premises have connections that do not meet the universal service obligation, with 81,500 of them residential.

Remote, rural areas are most likely to suffer from slow internet speeds, with Aberdeenshire, the Highlands and Powys topping the list for the most homes below the minimum standard.

Across Wales, 10,626 homes were below the minimum standard for broadband speed– with only Scotland and Northern Ireland having more.

Which?, the consumer champion, said the cost-of-living crisis has made having a reliable, low-cost broadband all the more necessary.

The organisation's director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha, said: “The industry and government must work together, or risk undermining the UK’s goal of becoming a world leader in connectivity.”

High-speed internet is a key part of the Government’s “levelling-up” agenda.

In their 2019 general election manifesto, the Conservative party promised gigabit broadband – with download speeds of 1000mb/s – would be made available nationwide by 2025.

This target was later revised down to 85% by 2025, with full coverage by 2030.

Ofcom's figures show 66% of the UK could access gigabit broadband as of January.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We've put more cash into broadband rollout than any government in British history.

"More than 97% of UK premises can access superfast broadband, which meets people's current needs, but we are determined to not leave anyone behind.

"Since the USO gave people the legal right to a decent internet connection two years ago more than 89,000 premises have been upgraded.

"We're also prioritising these hard-to-reach areas for lightning-fast gigabit broadband through our record £5 billion Project Gigabit, with 600,000 premises already connected."

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