As one of the most rural districts in the South East, Wealden is asking residents and businesses about their day-to-day experience of mobile phone connections and broadband services.
Councillor Nick Collinson, Cabinet member with responsibility for Community Leadership and Communications said:
Good mobile phone links and internet connections are as important as roads and railways in today’s interconnected world. Poor local networks in some parts of the District may be holding back business and abandoning people in silent frustration while people living elsewhere are making the most of an era of unprecedented mobile connectivity.
The ‘not spot’ – a location where there is still no mobile phone connection – is common in parts of Wealden, and data published in a digital inclusion report by the Council has revealed a wide range of different broadband speeds across the District: some parts averaging broadband speeds of less than 5 Megabytes per second (Mbps) while others are enjoying connection speeds of more than 15Mbps. Low average connection speeds make it very difficult to create live video links with customers, work on large online files and enjoy film and music streaming.
Although speeds in most of Crowborough are higher than many rural areas in the district, all wards are below the UK average of 22.8Mbps (Regulator Ofcom).
Last week Wealden MP Nus Ghani drew attention to the fact that 5.7 million people across Britain still cannot access the internet at the Ofcom required 10 Megabits per second in a cross-party report by Members of Parliament called Broadbad. She highlighted problems experienced in Wealden by local head teachers, farmers and small businesses accessing online forms.
Councillor Collinson added:
Some members of our community are being left behind by poor connectivity in rural areas. More and more public services are being delivered online so this is an important issue for the Council. What we need now is more information to argue the case for improvements.
Ensuring that all members of the community have the connections and the skills to access digital technology will become increasingly important with the continuing digital roll out of many government services including Universal Credit which will be administered online.
Click on www.wealden.gov.uk/mobileandinternetsurvey to take part in the survey. It includes questions about your mobile phone reception and internet access at fixed locations in the Wealden area including your home, your place of work/business or your school/college where appropriate. Print copies of the survey are also available at Wealden District Council’s Hailsham offices in Vicarage Lane.
The information provided will be used alongside other data to help map mobile phone and broadband coverage in the Wealden area and establish where there are potential gaps.
The Council hopes to use the information provided by residents, schools and businesses to campaign for better connectivity across Wealden.
The survey will close on 18th April 2016.