Slow internet speeds hitting rural businesses hard

Reporter:

Shane Brennan

SLOW internet speeds are hitting our rural businesses.

Ruthin shop owner and county councillor Huw Hilditch Roberts said he did a lot of his business online from home and that slow speeds were making it a difficult to get business done.

He added that this was proving to be bad for businesses in the region.

“This is so important to get right; it's costing businesses time and money,” he said.

Meanwhile, one in five adults in Denbighshire have never been online and poor internet coverage in the region is damaging businesses. 

These are the shocking figures released by the Go-On UK, the Digital Skills Charity 

According to the charity 18.9 per cent of adults in Denbighshire have never been online, almost double the UK average of 11 per cent. 

In Gwynedd just under 15 per cent of people have not been online. 

Businesses across Denbighshire and Meirionnydd have warned that they need a good internet infrastructure so that they can thrive. 

Fiona Hopkins recently started a wine and beer shop in Bala. 

She said: “We are primarily a shop serving our local community and supporting local producers, on line sales and all that that entails are a really important part of our business.

"Thankfully the broadband here on Bala High Street is fast enough for all our needs.

"Unfortunately, like many small independent businesses a lot of our administration and web maintenance has to be done at home and when we go home, about four miles away, that is difficult or impossible as the internet connection is both intermittent and slow, less than 0.5 MB.

“Ultimately, I think our region's businesses and economic potential will be held back by the rural low speeds.”

Gruffudd Roberts of Llaeth y Llan dairy in Llannefydd said: “At the moment we are receiving less than two mb per second along our current system, we have supplemented this with satellite broadband, but with more and more people using, that has slowed down as well and it’s unreliable in bad weather. 

“I’d say day to day running it doesn’t really affect us that much, but with our planned expansion in the new year, the amount of bandwidth we do receive limits us with certain software available that would be beneficial and possibly allow us to automate certain things we do day to day manually on the computer.”

IT business owner Rob Boyns said that there is a grant available in some parts of Wales that would help to improve the situation.

He said: "If this grant was rolled out to our part of Wales it would make a huge difference, we would have an internet service that would be similar to those available in city areas. 

Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM for North Wales, said that access to a good internet service was very important. 

He said: “It is worth bearing these figures in mind when organisations like councils and health boards consult on the future of their services, which have a greater impact on the vulnerable. 

“This shift of information and services, both in the public and private sector, means that ensuring everyone in our communities has the skills to go online is vital.” 

See full story in the Free Press

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