More get ultrafast broadband coverage in Wigan

Far more properties in Wigan can access high-speed internet than five years ago, new figures show.

New figures from Ofcom show that as of January 133,933 properties – or 87 per cent of the area – could access “ultrafast” broadband, with speeds of 300mb/s (megabytes per second) or more.

This is up from 76 per cent five years ago, in June 2017.

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High-speed internet is a key part of the Government’s “levelling-up” agenda and is vital in many industries for a company's efficient and successful running.

As of January 133,933 properties – or 87 per cent of the Wigan area – could access “ultrafast” broadband,

In their 2019 general election manifesto, the Conservative party promised gigabit broadband – with download speeds of 1000mb/s – would be made available nationwide by 2025.

This target was later revised down to 85 per cent by 2025, with full coverage by 2030.

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Despite this, the same data shows across the country there were still thousands of properties below the minimum standard for "decent" broadband as of January.

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Since March 2020, broadband providers have been required to meet a “universal service obligation”, meaning everyone has the legal right to a “decent, affordable” connection.

This is defined as a download speed of at least 10mb/s and an upload speed of 1mb/s, for a maximum of £45 a month.

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If customers cannot access internet at this speed, they can ask their local network provider to set up a connection – although internet providers are excused if the cost to them is over £3,400.

While there were just nine homes below the "universal service obligation" in Wigan, across the country there were around 81,500 homes that did not meet it.

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Ofcom said while new fibre-optic broadband had improved internet speeds for millions, some remain at risk of being left behind.

A spokesperson said: “Some homes in hard-to-reach areas still struggle to get decent broadband, so there’s more work to do to make sure these communities get the connections they need.”

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Across the North West, 2,828 homes were below the minimum standard for broadband speed.

Meanwhile, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales had more than any English region, with over 20,000 in Scotland alone.

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Which?, the consumer champion, said the cost-of-living crisis has made having a reliable, low-cost broadband all the more necessary.

The organisation's director of policy and advocacy, Rocio Concha, said: “The industry and government must work together, or risk undermining the UK’s goal of becoming a world leader in connectivity.”

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Ofcom's figures show 66 per cent of the UK could access gigabit broadband as of January.

A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We've put more cash into broadband rollout than any government in British history.

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"More than 97 per cent of UK premises can access superfast broadband, which meets people's current needs, but we are determined to not leave anyone behind.

"Since the USO gave people the legal right to a decent internet connection two years ago more than 89,000 premises have been upgraded.

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"We're also prioritising these hard-to-reach areas for lightning-fast gigabit broadband through our record £5bn Project Gigabit, with 600,000 premises already connected."