PLAID Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Liz Saville Roberts, and MS, Mabon ap Gwynfor, have called on network provider Openreach to honor a long-standing commitment to connect a rural community to fiber broadband.
Despite recurring setbacks, work began earlier this year to connect the rural community of Brithdir on the outskirts of Dolgellau to fiber broadband.
But despite an initial flurry of activity and with around half of the properties connected to high-speed fiber, work has stalled.
About 34 remaining properties and businesses were left with slow connection speeds and regular network interruptions.
Their call for action was echoed by Gwynedd County Councilor Delyth Lloyd Griffiths.
Liz Saville Roberts MP and Mabon ap Gwynfor MS said: ‘We are deeply concerned that Openreach has decided to indefinitely suspend the rollout of fiber optic broadband to 34 properties in Brithdir – having only connected around the half of the households in the region.
“This project was plagued with setbacks from the start.
“People living in rural areas are already at a huge disadvantage when it comes to accessing fast and reliable broadband.
“It should be understood that rural businesses and those working from home find the slowness with which fiber optic broadband is delivered extremely frustrating.
“What makes this worse is the disparity of services within a community – with some households now able to access fast, reliable internet while their neighbors across the road continue to struggle with snail speeds.
“Our constituents were led to believe that the work of connecting the whole community was well on its way.
“The fact that Openreach has now indicated that it has no immediate plans to connect the remaining 34 homes to fiber broadband is disappointing to say the least.
“We urge Openreach to provide these remaining 34 households and businesses with a realistic and reliable timeline for completion and honor their commitment to help rural communities in our constituency achieve faster broadband.”
Cllr Delyth Lloyd Griffiths added: ‘Residents have informed me of their experiences with downloading articles sometimes taking over 12 hours.
“Some residents have had a date confirming when they will be online, but this leaves residents of Brithdir feeling that there is stark inequality as some residents and businesses are being left behind in this digital age.
“This part of Gwynedd deserves so much more. Independent traders and freelancers are the backbone of our rural economy in areas like Brithdir.
“We are grateful to our member Senedd and our local MP for their support in pursuing this matter.
“As a team, Plaid Cymru will spare no effort to support our local residents on this.”
A spokesperson for Openreach said: ‘We have our deepest sympathy for the frustrations of Brithdir residents who fall outside of BT’s USO scheme.
“To be clear, no decision has been made on the remaining properties that are not part of the USO, but we hope to be able to update the community on next steps shortly.”