"Digital connectivity remains a tremendous challenges for rural communities" - Ben Lake MP


During a Westminster Hall debate, led by Liz Saville Roberts MP, on the future of the Welsh rural economy, Ben Lake MP spoke of the significant challenges faced by rural communities regarding digital and transport connectivity. 

During his speech Mr Lake noted that connectivity “remains a tremendous challenge for the rural economy of Wales.” 

Ofcom’s “Connected Nations” report in 2020 noted that nearly 9,000 premises in Wales cannot access a decent fixed broadband service or get good 4G coverage indoors, with almost all those premises in rural areas. More recently, NFU Cymru and others found that less than 50% of those who lived in rural areas said they had standard broadband, only 36% had superfast broadband, and 66% said that they or their household had been impacted by poor broadband. 

In the rural areas of Wales, it is estimated that 26.5% do not receive a decent broadband connection (10mbps) compared with the Wales average of 11.9% and the UK average of 9.3%. 

Ben Lake MP welcomed the recent pilot broadband upgrade scheme carried out by DCMS in Ceredigion and neighbouring counties, which “proved successful in aggregating community demand for better broadband and encouraging alternative network providers to bid to undertake upgrade work in some of our most rural communities”. Despite the scheme’s initial success, Mr Lake noted that Openreach’s announcement of a commercial roll-out in Ceredigion in the next four or five years has thrown many imminent broadband upgrade projects into uncertainty. 

Ben Lake MP said: 

“Access to broadband is critical, both for economic prosperity and individual wellbeing. At present, there is a real danger that the UK Government’s digital infrastructure strategy will not deliver for rural communities in Ceredigion. 

“Compounding this debacle is the fact that the Government’s policies for addressing better mobile connectivity in rural areas are also not delivering.  

“Just as important as digitally connecting our rural economy is the need to decarbonise our transport system rapidly and responsibly reduce private car use. It is simply not enough for the Governments on either end of the M4 to call for improved active travel or the adoption of electric vehicles if they are not also prepared to invest in the necessary infrastructure and improved public transport. 

“All areas, all communities—indeed, all nations of the UK—deserve equal treatment, so I hope the UK and Welsh Governments will do their utmost to secure the investment and, where necessary, the policy reform to allow our rural communities to fulfil their potential.” 

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  • Carys Lloyd
    published this page in News 2021-06-25 12:24:08 +0100

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