Two thirds of the North East ‘unaware of right to decent broadband’

Almost two thirds of broadband users in the North East do not know they are entitled to demand access to decent broadband speed, according to new research.

Ten Mbps allows most activities including web browsing, listening to music and watching HD videos. But 63% don’t know they are entitled to it, say broadband provider National Broadband (NB).

NB say half of North East residents relied more on broadband since the pandemic, while 93% consider it “as important as utilities such as gas, water, and electricity”.

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The top five online activities in the North East are: 1. Email and video calls 2. Social media 3. Shopping 4. Entertainment such as TV streaming services 5. “Life administration” (online banking or paying utilities).

Two thirds of people in the North East are "unaware of their right to decent broadband". PA image.

For 16 to 44 year-olds across the UK, social media is their most important use of broadband. The rest of the population sees email and video calls as most important.

When surveyed, 59% said they “didn’t think the public should have to pay anything towards broadband infrastructure installation”; 52% said the Government needed to do more to improve broadband speeds.

The survey is part of a campaign to increase awareness of the Universal Service Obligation for Broadband (USO) among consumers, and pressure the Government to improve broadband services to the most digitally deprived.

NB say the USO regularly fails to help those in remote and rural areas. The scheme provides maximum per-property funding of £3,400 towards the cost of building or upgrading necessary network infrastructure.

David Hennell of NB said: “There are still far too many people in homes across the country that are being left behind due a lack of access to decent broadband.

“The Government frequently talks a good game about levelling up and closing the digital divide, but too often fails to deliver.

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"We of course appreciate that in some locations installing fibre is unavoidably costly, but if the Government continues to ignore viable alternatives, then those most in need of improved broadband will carry on suffering.”

In April, Digital minister Nadine Dorries wrote to internet providers, urging them to raise awareness of discounted broadband offers for those on universal credit and benefits.

She said: “Broadband has transformed people’s lives as we become a more digital society” and that it was “vital we raise awareness of discount broadband offers for low-income households”.

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