Plaid challenge to improve internet connection 'from the Dark Ages'
Slow broadband connections are hindering businesses on the North's largest industrial estate.
That's the finding of a survey of more than 30 companies operating on the Wrecsam Industrial Estate by Plaid Cymru's North Wales Assembly Member Llyr Gruffydd. Three-quarters of the businesses surveyed said they were unhappy with their broadband provision. Mr Gruffydd has already raised concerns about the lack of superfast broadband for the estate after receiving complaints about the Welsh Government's inactivity.
More than half the companies surveyed (55%) said they would consider moving off the estate to get guaranteed faster broadband. More than 90% said that fast broadband was "essential" or "important" to their business.
On the eve of a visit to Wrecsam by BT's Welsh boss Ann Beynon, Mr Gruffydd said this was a wonderful opportunity to back local business in the region's largest industrial estate.
Llyr Gruffydd said: "Speedy broadband is as vital to modern industry as good road and rail infrastructure. The survey reveals how important good broadband speeds on Wrecsam industrial estate are to local businesses if they are to remain competitive.
"BT has recently been awarded a Ł56 million contract to roll out high-speed broadband connections throughout Wales. It’s an enormous concern that BT has no commercial plans to upgrade the Dutton Dyffeth exchange and bring high-speed broadband to Wrexham Industrial Estate. Worse still, it seems that Welsh Government has also made the estate a low priority, and has not included the estate as part of the Next Generation programme. I hope Ann Beynon listens to the needs of local industry so we can safeguard jobs and enterprises in the area.
"I know the local council is very concerned that poor broadband provision could see existing businesses relocating and deter new enterprises. Local firms are putting up with broadband from the Dark Ages and I’m worried that poor provision is holding back investment and actually deterring firms from locating there.
"One individual stated in a letter that ‘I am now at a point where it is quicker to travel home (4 miles) to upload/download files during the day, this significantly affects production on a daily basis and unless something can be done I will be forced to consider moving from the area to new premises where faster access is available’.
"Clearly that is unacceptable and that's why I raised this matter with the First Minister Carwyn Jones in the Senedd back in April and will continue to press for better broadband connections. The industrial estate is a key to maintaining quality employment in the area and, to do that, we need to see 21st Century broadband connections. When Plaid was in government with the One Wales government (2007-11), we financed the new link road to the estate to replace the sub-standard rural road access. Now we need to see a similar commitment to upgrade the broadband access, otherwise we will see the estate stagnate and fail to attract new enterprises."
DETAILS OF THE SURVEY
31 companies based on the industrial estate contacted via Survey Monkey responded.
1. How happy are you with your company's broadband connection at Wrexham Industrial Estate
Very happy 0.0%
Not happy 51.6%
Very unhappy 22.6%
2. To maximise broadband speed, the Fibrespeed connection has been developed for the Industrial Estate. Has this option worked for your company?
Yes, we use Fibrespeed and are happy with the service 3.2%
Yes, we use Fibrespeed but are not happy with the service 0.0%
We are considering using Fibrespeed 16.1%
No, Fibrespeed is too expensive 58.1%
No, Fibrespeed does not meet our company's needs 22.6%
- We have not been offered & have not heard of Fibrespeed
- unaware of this
- Fibre to the premises is to expensive. We need FTTC from BT
- To my knowledge (and having spoken to BT), we are only capable of receiving ADSL2 speed and not fibre. No mention of Fibrespeed connection has been made to our company.
- Never heard about Fibrespeed! Use BT
3. How important is speedy broadband for your business?
Not important 9.7%
We don't use the internet 0.0%
4. Would guaranteed faster broadband elsewhere tempt to you....
14 did not answer (45%)
Of those 17 who did...
Relocate off the industrial estate? 70.6%
Relocate out of Wrexham? 29.4%
5. How much would you be willing to pay for high-speed broadband?
Up to £1,000 a year 75.0% 15
£1-5,000 20.0% 4
£5-10,000 5.0% 1
£10-15,000 0.0% 0
11 did not respond