South Dorset 'left behind' by slow internet speeds

South Dorset 'left behind' by slow internet speeds

Published by George Sharpe at 8:40am 31st July 2020.

South Dorset is being left behind by slow internet speeds – according to Weymouth town councillor Luke Wakeling.

He has called on Dorset Council to push for a better service for Weymouth, Portland and Chickerell where speeds are sometimes 20 times slower than you can get in Bournemouth.

Cllr Wakeling says the crawling internet pace is disadvantaging many people who want to work from home in Dorset Council’s largest built-up area.

“You are lucky to get a 50Mbps download speed. However, if I lived in Bournemouth, I could get Cable internet up to 350Mbps and in some areas Fibre internet up to 1000Mbps…The Weymouth area receives internet speeds that are orders of magnitude slower than in the neighbouring authority. Our communities, already suffering from poverty and deprivation, are being left further behind every day,” said Cllr Wakeling in a letter to Dorset Council’s Cabinet.

iphone phone

He says that by the council’s own statistics ultrafast broadband (>100Mbps internet) is available to just 7.9% of Dorset Council’s residents- which ranks the area 380 out of 419 councils – putting the area in the bottom 10% for ultrafast internet availability.

“Dorset Council’s area is suffering from digital poverty. I know that Dorset Council is still working to get 24Mbps internet to some areas, however my questions pertain to the delivery of the next generation internet to our urban areas…”

“What do you say to the young people of Dorset who are looking for jobs and opportunities in technology, and think they need to leave our beautiful county to succeed?”

Cabinet brief holder for Corporate development and Change, Cllr Gary Suttle, says the council and its partners has been paying Openreach to provide a service where it claims it would otherwise be uneconomic and over the past 5 years and has delivered access to superfast broadband to over 84,000 premises in the county.

Cllr Gary Suttle

He said that over those 5 years access to superfast broadband in Dorset has grown from a pre-contract level of 77% to 96% superfast availability across the county.

“The focus is moving on to building faster, gigabit networks. The starting point for this is low in Dorset, in common with many predominately rural counties. The national strategy was set out in July 2018 in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. This concluded that the most effective way to deliver nationwide full fibre connectivity at pace is to promote competition and commercial investment where possible and intervene where necessary. This is a long-term agenda nationally, and in Dorset.”

Cllr Suttle said it was apparent that intervention programmes will be needed in large parts of Dorset where the market will not provide with the first outcomes expected from 2022 onwards.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter