Wales

Download speed 'anger' on Deeside Industrial Estate

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Media captionAdam Butler and Tony Parry are frustrated at the slow speeds for their firms in the Deeside Industrial Estate.

Small firms on one of Europe's biggest industrial parks say poor broadband speeds are damaging them and some could be forced to move out.

The Welsh government and BT's Superfast Cymru programme is supposed to deliver fast internet services to most of Wales by next year.

Deeside Industrial Estate is within the region's enterprise zone but small businesses talk of frustration.

BT said it was committed to making fibre broadband widely available.

Having superfast broadband is one of the key selling points in attracting businesses to Deeside and helping those already there to grow and create jobs.

Adam Butler runs an online recruitment company on the business park and said he is "incredibly disappointed" by what is available and it was stopping him from taking on more staff.

"We came here a quickly growing business specifically to take more office space to employ more staff," he told BBC Radio Wales' Wales At Work.

"We have 0.71Mbps download speed - where fast download speed is 20Mbps plus. We have to get other dongle wireless arrangements but it's not ideal and it's an obstacle to growth.

"We're on the Deeside industrial estate with some of the biggest global brands like Toyota, ConvaTec. The transport infrastructure's here and broadband capability as part of the enterprise zone is promised as being world class and superfast."

Askar Sheibani, chair of the Deeside Business Forum, said smaller businesses were also finding the cost prohibitive.

"Ultrafast broadband is available in Deeside which is good, for big and medium sized businesses. The complaints are coming from small business - the price deferential is enormous.

"It can be £700 a month which is thousands of pounds a year."

'Mind blowing'

He said enterprise zones were supposed to be a priority but it had not materialised.

"People are asking why can I have superfast broadband in my home but not on the largest business park in Europe? That's mind blowing, it's causing frustration, anger, and unhappiness."

He said small businesses were talking of moving out.

The Welsh government expects all business and residential premises to be able to access next generation broadband services by the end of 2016.

But the Auditor General found many of the more difficult-to-connect premises still remain in the slow lane.

He recently reported that the Welsh government's Superfast Cymru contract, signed with BT in 2012 and backed with £205m of public funding, is making "reasonable progress".

What is Superfast Cymru?

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Superfast Cymru is the £425 million scheme that has been set-up to reach the parts of Wales that are more difficult to upgrade.

£205 million pounds comes from public money including from the European Union and the Welsh and UK governments.

£220 million has been invested by BT.

It aims to bring superfast broadband to 700,000 premises in Wales.

A Wales Audit Office survey of 1,000 premises across the intervention areas of Gwynedd and Blaenau Gwent identified that 13% of premises had taken up next generation broadband services.

BT has not confirmed with ministers how it will achieve the target of 40% of premises - around 290,000 - able to access broadband services at the very fastest speeds of at least 100 Mbps.

But by the end of 2014, only 325 premises - less than 0.1% - had access to those speeds.

A spokesman for BT said it was committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible.

"Our commercial roll-out in Wales has enabled more than 600,000 homes and premises to access high-speed broadband (including parts of Deeside Industrial Park).

"Superfast Cymru - of which BT is a major partner and investor - is aimed at reaching parts of Wales that cannot be reached by any commercial roll-out such as by BT, Virgin Media etc."

Priority projects

A Welsh government spokesperson said: "Enterprise zones and local growth zones are priorities under the Superfast Cymru project.

"In Deeside Enterprise Zone the rollout continues with Connah's Quay, Hawarden Industrial Estate and Sealand exchanges enabled and work to bring superfast broadband to the rest of the Enterprise Zone is continuing.

"We will be making an announcement shortly about a new scheme to provide a superfast broadband solution to a number of business parks and industrial estates across Wales including those in the Deeside Enterprise Zone.

"This will target those premises not currently scheduled to receive superfast broadband as a result of commercial roll-outs or the Superfast Cymru project. "

The spokesman said all premises passed under Superfast Cymru are capable of receiving speeds in excess of 24Mbps and in the vast majority of cases over 30Mbps.

There is more on this story on BBC Radio Wales' Wales At Work which is available on the BBC iPlayer for the next month.

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