Call for action on Doncaster's broadband blackspots

Debra Oxby
Debra Oxby

Doncaster households are struggling with poor broadband falling well below official Government targets, it is claimed.

Figures released by the Consumers Association magazine Which? place two out of the borough's three parliamentary constituencies well below the national average, with many below what the Government considers to be the minimum standard.

Claire White

Claire White

Communications firm BT points to alternative figures that show higher numbers getting fast links.

But the new statistics have prompted concerns from MPs Caroline Flint and Ed Miliband, who have called for action to improve the speeds available to residents in the borough.

Doncaster North has the worst figures in the borough according to the figures.

Data from Speed Check Ltd from January to March 2017, states that in Doncaster North, the average household was receiving broadband speeds of 13.9Mbs. The bottom 25 per cent in Doncaster North was receiving broadband speeds of less than 5.5Mbps.

That compares to the Government's recently announced Universal Service Obligation (USO), which is 10Mbps. Which? analysis identified the UK average as 17Mbps.

The same data revealed that in Don Valley, the average household was receiving broadband speeds of 16.5Mbs. The bottom 25 per cent in Don Valley was receiving speeds of less than 6.5Mbps.

Most of Doncaster Central has better speeds than most in the country. The data showed an above average figure in the constituency, of 21.0Mbs.

But the bottom 25 per cent in Doncaster Central was still receiving broadband speeds of less than 7.7Mbps.

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint is concerned about the figures and has called on her constituents to tell her about their problems if they have no or poor broadband.

She said: “Nearly a third of my constituents either don’t have access or have very poor access to broadband, and that’s just not right in the 21st century."

She said she would work to make sure all in her constituency had the internet access they wanted. She added: "It’s only fair. It’s only right.”

Ms Flint is asking constituents to email her at or via her website

Mr Miliband has also called for action.

He said: "These figures show the system of broadband connection is not serving my constituents.

"This digital divide is bad for jobs, businesses and the economy.

"Government and regulators, as well as companies are responsible for these failings. They must act."

Commincations firm BT disputes the figures and quotes the independent website, which says more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Doncaster can get superfast broadband with speeds of 24Mbps and above and that only 0.61 per cent have speeds less than 2mbps. That site claims In Doncaster North the percentage of those able to access superfast speeds was 92.6 per cent, and Don Valley was 82 per cent

TB says across Doncaster around 111,500 premises have been upgraded to fibre as a result of their own commercial roll-out and the Superfast South Yorkshire programme, a partnership between BT and the South Yorkshire local authorities, but adds there is still more to be done and the roll-out by Superfast South Yorkshire continues.

Virgin Media are also carrying out work.

BT says very rural areas are vastly more difficult to upgrade due to the scale of civil engineering involved so are often completed slightly later in the roll-out when the bulk of the network hsa been done.

A spokesman said: “Thanks to BT and the Superfast South Yorkshire programme more than 111,500 homes and businesses across Doncaster can access fibre broadband. The roll-out continues and thousands more premises will be upgraded under the current plans.

“The Don Valley features heavily in Superfast South Yorkshire’s current roll-out plans. More than 4,000 premises have already been upgraded and a further 8,000 will join them in the coming weeks and months.”

The Digital Economy Act 2017 which received Royal Assent in April, enabled the creation of a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), giving every household and business the right to request a broadband connection at a minimum speed of at least 10Mbps, up to a reasonable cost threshold - no matter where they live or work. Following this, the Government is consulting on the specific design of the USO which would be set in secondary legislation.

The consultation covers a number of design issues - the minimum specification, the technologies and providers that can deliver this, affordability, how it is funded and minimising market distortion. It also considers the review of the USO to ensure that it remains relevant over time.


Residents have told the Free Press how they have struggled with broadband in their homes.

Claire White, of Barnburgh struggled with her broadband connection for several years, and had to visit cafes if she needed to download a large document.

But she is hoping that she has finally sorted her problem after arranging for a fibre broadband after it was finally brought into her village.

She said: "Until about a week ago, I wasn't able to get fibre, although I understand most of the village was able to get it.

"But our house had terrible speeds - it was really rubbish. I got fibre after my neighbour got it. He had been checking every week to see if it was going to be available where we are.

"We had had to wait ages for it. In my village a lot of people complained about the speeds, but I know I have a business client in Bessacarr who has had speeds that are event worse than mine.

"Before fibre was put in last Friday my download speed was 3.76 Mb and upload was 0.27. It’s now 25.28 and 5.22.

"I work online and the speeds I was getting were almost non existent so I had to go and work in coffee shops or cafes. My dad in Harlington has the same problem as I had."

She said she also had friends in Tickhill who complained about their speeds.

Debra Oxby, of Carr Lodge, near Balby Carr, moved into the new Dominion housing estate and found she struggled to get a signal for broadband. She is still having difficulties.

She said when he moved in she thought it would have a great broadband connection because it was a new estate.

She said: "I was completely shocked when we arrived and found that we were struggling with the broadband."

She said she had set up a broadband system which involved having a dish on the side of the house. She had expected it to have speeds of 20Mbps but was usually seeing speeds of between 4Mbps and 6Mbps.

"It's not good enough," she said. "I think something needs to be done. I'm let to believe BT will put fibre down in the future and and that Virgin may come at some point. My daughter goes to the library or a coffee shop if she has a big document to download."

"We used to be in Sprotbrough, and we had decent broadband there, although I know people in Sprotbrough who struggle with their speeds."

Sales Director for Strata, who are the developer at Dominion, Gemma Smith said: “We absolutely appreciate how important wifi is in people’s everyday lives, particularly as we become more reliant on technology for work, leisure and also as it starts to feature more within our homes.

“Whilst we do ensure that the infrastructure is in place for service providers to install wifi for our residents, we also understand that the possible speed will be determined and dictated by what connectivity is available in each area.”