'Digital inequality' highlighted through Flintshire internet speed figures – LeaderLive


GOVERNMENT data shows how varied internet speed comes in the different Flintshire constituencies.

A group of MPs has warned the Government’s pledge of gigabit broadband for 85 per cent of the UK by 2025 will not be met, leaving those in rural areas with slow connectivity for years to come.

Figures from the House of Commons library showed that almost nine in 10 houses in Delyn (12.7 per cent) are incapable of accessing full-fibre broadband in September 2020.

This coverage differs greatly throughout the parliamentary constituency – from 36.1 per cent of homes in Caerwys, Halkyn and Nannerch, to a measly 0.2 per cent in New Brighton and Mynydd Isa.

The picture only gets slightly better in the parliamentary area of Alyn and Deeside.

The same data set showed that only 23.3 per cent of households in Alyn and Deeside could receive speeds of one gigabit per second in September 2020.

Breaking that 23 per cent down, this ranges from 84.6 per cent of homes in Hope to 0.2 per cent in overlapping New Brighton and Mynydd Isa.

According to the HoC figures, over a quarter of homes (27 per cent) of UK homes can access the technology, but more recent data from Think Broadband had this at 37 per cent by January.

The Public Accounts Committee criticised the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for not being prepared to admit sooner it would not meet a Conservative election pledge of gigabit broadband connectivity across the entire country by 2025.

It was not until November that the Government revealed it was rowing back on the target, aiming for at least 85 percent instead.

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That original target was “unachievable”, MPs said in their Improving Broadband report, and they are concerned the reduced target will still be challenging to meet.

Meg Hillier, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said the Government cannot allow digital inequality to exacerbate the economic inequality exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

She added: “With the grim announcement that the country and economy will be locked down for months, the Government’s promises on digital connectivity are more important than ever.

“But due to a litany of planning and implementation failures at DCMS, those promises are slipping farther and farther out of reach – even worse news for the ‘rural excluded’ who face years trying to recover with substandard internet connectivity.”

The National Farmers’ Union Cymru said many farming businesses are reliant on new technologies and strong internet connections, and are unable to move with the times without them.

NFU Cymru president John Davies added: “The long-held concern by rural dwellers that the gap between the services provided in urban and rural areas is only widening is also confirmed in the report, which identifies that consumers in rural areas have not been prioritised when it comes to improving broadband provision.

“Our rural communities are the ongoing casualties of digital inequality and this is unacceptable.”

Figures showed the average download speed across Alyn and Deeside was 44.5 Megabits per second – though this varied between 49.5 Mbps in Broughton and Saltney, and 40.3 Mbps in Connah’s Quay South and Northop Hall.

The same data for the Delyn area showed average speeds of 60.3 Megabits per second – but this varied massively between 51.9 Mbps in Gronant, Ffynnongroyw and Trelawnyd, and 38.8 Mbps in Holywell and Bagillt.

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The DCMS said it did not agree with the MPs’ report, claiming it contained some inaccuracies.

A spokesman said: “Gigabit capable broadband is being rolled out rapidly – from one in ten households in 2019 to one in three households today.

“We expect that half of all households will have access to gigabit speeds by the end of this year, and the UK is deploying at a faster build rate than comparable countries.”





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