Action call over South Tyneside broadband access

Only a fraction of houses in South Tyneside are capable of accessing the fastest full-fibre broadband, new figures reveal.

Acton call over broadband access
Acton call over broadband access

Figures from the House of Commons library showed just 0.9% of homes in South Shields could receive speeds of one gigabit per second in September, but coverage differs greatly throughout the parliamentary constituency – from 7.5% of homes in South Shields East, to none in 12 other areas.

In the Jarrow constituency, just 1.1% of households could receive speeds of one gigabit per second – ranging from 3.4% in Hebburn South, to none in nine other areas.

A group of MPs has warned the Government's pledge of gigabit broadband for 85% of the country by 2025 will not be met.

According to the figures, just 27% of UK homes can access the technology, but more recent data from Think Broadband had this at 37% by January.

Figures showed the average download speed across South Shields was 90.5 Megabits per second – though this varied between 110 Mbps in Harton East, and 56.5 Mbps in Whitburn and Marsden.

The average download speed across Jarrow was 89.7 Megabits per second – but this varied between 110.9 Mbps in Hebburn South, and 37.9 Mbps in Cleadon and East Boldon.

The Public Accounts Committee criticised the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for not admitting sooner that it would not meet a Conservative election pledge of gigabit broadband connectivity across the entire country by 2025.

In November the Government revealed it was rowing back on the target, aiming for at least 85% instead.

Meg Hillier, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “Due to a litany of planning and implementation failures at DCMS, those promises are slipping farther and farther out of reach.

"With the country and economy being locked down, the Government’s promises on digital connectivity are more important than ever.”

A DCMS spokesman said: "Gigabit capable broadband is being rolled out rapidly – from one in ten households in 2019 to one in three today.

"We expect that half of all households will have access to gigabit speeds by the end of this year, and the UK is deploying at a faster build rate than comparable countries."