Broadband users in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire have branded their counties broadband blackspots, with many getting less than 2Mbps from their connection.

Nearly half of businesses on the two counties’ borders get well below 2 Mbps, as do around half of homes in Gloucestershire and more than a third in Herefordshire.

The average UK broadband speed is 7.6Mbps, and the government’s targets for the UK demand a minimum of 2Mbps for everyone by 2015.

The Borders Broadband project surveyed 1,512 businesses on the borders of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, 5,075 homes in Herefordshire and 5,960 in Gloucestershire.

Around one in six of the Borders businesses 10 per cent of Herefordshire homes got less than 0.5Mbps typically. A quarter of Gloucestershire homes got less than 1Mbps.

Despite this, more than three quarters of homes and businesses said broadband is essential or very important to their lives, with many using broadband for work or study as well as personal usage.

Most households in both counties said they use the internet for more than 20 hours per week, and in Hereforshire, around one in ten households have four or five computers or other devices connected to the internet at home.

Borders Broadband is a partnership between GFirst (Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership), Gloucestershire County Council, Herefordshire Council and the government agency, Broadband Delivery UK.

David Owen, Chief Executive at GFirst, said: “These figures just aren’t acceptable in a world where high-speed internet is vital for businesses to grow.

“Many firms are reliant on broadband to not only communicate internally and externally but also to sell their products to overseas markets.

“We must ensure Gloucestershire has high-speed broadband to help our businesses compete on a global scale.”

Councillor Graham Powell, Herefordshire Council’s broadband champion, said: “We are working hard to bring faster broadband to Herefordshire, but our businesses need to recognise that as well as providing opportunities for them to become more efficient, it will also offer their customers better access to a wider range of possible providers and may put their order books under pressure.”

Borders Broadband is one of four national pilots for Broadband Delivery UK, which will guide later local broadband rollout schemes.

Its goal is to to bring to the counties the best, most reliable and affordable Superfast Broadband coverage in rural England.

It’s hoping to win private investment to match government and EU funds, to provide 100 per cent access to 2Mbps across the counties by 2015 and 100 per cent superfast access at over 24Mbps by 2018. 

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