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Denbighshire North Wales Politics

Councillors call to improve internet connectivity in Denbighshire

THOUSANDS of homes and businesses in one North Wales county suffer from grindingly slow internet speeds.

Denbighshire County Council’s performance scrutiny committee met yesterday discuss poor connectivity in the county.

Councillors learned that out of the total 50,290 properties in Denbighshire, 3,362 receive internet speeds of 30Mbs or less and 1,485 receive internet speeds of 10Mbs or less the UK average is almost 90mbs.

As part of its corporate plan, Denbighshire wants to advise residents so they understand the options for improved connectivity.

The committee heard how Openreach has no legal obligation to connect every property with fibre and that the council, Welsh Government, and UK Government can only encourage providers.

One way to do this is to support residents in accessing the UK Government “Gigabit Voucher” grants but only where certain criteria are met.

Consequently Denbighshire has invested in a digital officer to work closely with members as well as city, town, and community councils to advise communities on getting better connected and accessing the voucher scheme.

Councillors grilled a member of the region’s internet provider Openreach, enquiring why some rural areas had such poor connectivity.

Cllr Gareth Sandilands said: “I think we are looking at it in the 21st century as important as water, gas, and electricity for connecting people. That’s how important I see it going forward.”

Cllr Terry Mendies added: “In the rural community, it is even more important because more people work from home, and of course, in the rural areas, they don’t have the amenities as say Prestatyn or Rhyl.”

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Martin Williams, representing Openreach, said the company installed high-speed internet in all areas, not just larger suburbs, and expanded connectivity in more rural areas.

Mr Williams admitted, though, some remote locations were more difficult. “There are some areas it becomes too expensive to build,” he said.

Councillors have invited Openreach to attend a future meeting in early 2024 where the internet provider will update the committee on its progress connecting homes and expanding high-speed internet in the region.