Action call over Northumberland broadband access

Only a fraction of homes in Northumberland are capable of accessing the fastest full-fibre broadband, new figures reveal.

By Patrick Jack
Thursday, 14th January 2021, 3:38 pm
Acton call over broadband access
Acton call over broadband access

Figures from the House of Commons library showed just 8.4% of homes in the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency could receive speeds of one gigabit per second in September 2020.

This coverage differs greatly throughout the parliamentary constituency – from 33.7% in Longhorsley, Hepscott and Capheaton, to 0.6% in Alnwick.

The figure in Wansbeck is just 3.2% of households – ranging from 33.7% of homes in Longhorsley, Hepscott and Capheaton, to none in Morpeth Central and East.

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Blyth Valley has just 5.8% of households with the fastest speeds – ranging from from 26.9% of homes in Blyth Newsham, to none in three other areas.

A group of MPs has warned the Government's pledge of gigabit broadband for 85% of the country by 2025 will not be met.

According to the figures, just 27% of UK homes can access the technology, but more recent data from Think Broadband had this at 37% by January.

The Public Accounts Committee criticised the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for not admitting sooner that it would not meet a Conservative election pledge of gigabit broadband connectivity across the entire country by 2025.

In November the Government revealed it was rowing back on the target, and was now aiming for at least 85% instead.

Meg Hillier, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “Due to a litany of planning and implementation failures at DCMS, those promises are slipping farther and farther out of reach.

"This is even worse news for the ‘rural excluded’ who face years trying to recover with substandard internet connectivity.”

The DCMS said it did not agree with the MPs' report, and claimed it contained a number of 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."