BROADBAND download speeds in Yorkshire’s second biggest city are lagging behind those across Europe, at less than half the speeds of some small rural villages in Romania and Poland, a campaign group has said.
The Fix Britain’s Internet campaign, which is calling on regulator Ofcom to make changes to the national network Openreach, compared download speeds at villages, towns and cities across Europe and found that Sheffield, Manchester, and London were among the slowest.
The South Yorkshire city’s average download speed of 18.36 mbps - which puts it in the bottom five cities in the country - is also less than half of that in Fors in Sweden, which has a population of just 860 and has recorded speeds of 40.6 mbps.
It is more than 11 times slower than the provincial Flanders town of Oudenaarde in Belgium, which has download speeds of almost 202 mbps. Even the 6,900 residents of the isolated village of Rani in India are faring better with recorded speeds of 34.8mbps, the campaign group said.
The campaign said that since 2008, BT’s investment in Openreach has been “broadly flat”, leaving many without fast reliable broadband. Deployment of high speed broadband has also lagged behind other countries to the extent that only 2 per cent of the UK has access to ultrafast pure fibre broadband, far behind the likes of Lithuania, where more than a third have access, and Kazakhstan, where 13 per cent do.
Broadband speeds were subject of debate at a recent meeting of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. In its latest quarterly economic survey, just 51 per cent of businesses said they were satisfied with their broadband service for speed and connectivity, cost and reliability.
Super Fast South Yorkshire, the £28m project to roll out fibre broadband across the Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham local authority areas, plans to have fibre access to 98 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses by 2018/19. It has already rolled-out to parts of Sheffield, such as to 20,000 properties in Attercliffe, after signing a deal with BT in September 2014. It has also secured funding to secure ultra fast broadband to enterprise zones across the region, and there are proposals for a city centre wifi scheme that would increase connectivity for businesses and residents. It is also launching an awareness campaign to keep people updated on progress.
Programme manager Natalie Ward said: “This project has a huge scale, and we’re looking at what we can do to reach the remaining 2 per cent.
“This research does not tell the whole picture. Sheffield and South Yorkshire is currently in a transition period, but we are putting in the infrastructure and once we have done the job the landscape will be very different.”
But Doncaster-based internet service provider Origin Broadband, a member of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said communication with businesses was problematic, with many unaware of when and how super fast broadband would be installed in their area.
Managing director Oliver Bryssau said: “We often hear that businesses aren’t happy with their current solution, especially the speed, reliability, and cost.”