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Street residents quick to dismiss top-50 slot for slowest broadband; 'SURVEY FINDINGS COULD HIT FURZY PARK HOUSE PRICES.

Byline: RACHAEL MISSTEAR

A SURVEY which ranked a Welsh street among Britain's slowest for broadband speeds has been rubbished by the people living and running businesses there.

Furzy Park in Haverfordwest is the only street in Wales to feature in the top 50 slowest broadband spots in the UK in research by independent comparison site uSwitch.com.

It ranks number seven in the survey with an average download speed of 0.254 megabits per second (mbps), more than 74 times slower than the fastest speeds achieved in the UK.

The street with the slowest broadband in Britain is claimed to be Mount Pleasant in Halesworth, Suffolk, which has an average download speed of just 0.128mbps.

In contrast, Leamington Spa in Warwickshire has the fastest average download broadband speed in the UK at 18.87mbps.

However, many residents living in the Pembrokeshire street claim to have faster than average speeds, with many enjoying downloads of up to 8Mb.

While the ranking has been dismissed by them as a "bungled average statistic", the negative status could potentially knock house prices there, estate agents said.

"Broadband coverage is becoming a key factor in determining house sales and prices," said Charlie Ellingworth, of HSBC's Property Vision, part of HSBC Private Bank.

"It's a criteria which is becoming ever more important if you are trying to sell a house.

"In a family-friendly area for example, it can certainly have an adverse affect on demand and subsequently on house prices."

The trend could have a major impact on the Welsh housing market.

The nation's biggest cities all have areas where 3G mobile broadband does not work and parts of rural Wales have among the worst fixed-line internet speeds anywhere in the UK.

But Furzy Park resident Gary Mayhew, who runs Buzitech, an IT technical support business from his home, said the street actually enjoys relatively fast broadband speeds.

"My business offers support and consultancy throughout the West Wales area and I would say that this data is way off the mark," he said.

"There are many parts of rural Pembrokeshire and Wales with far worse speeds.

"In Haverfordwest we are not that far from the telephone exchange and most speeds in the area are reasonably good.

"I think this kind of data shouldn't be published if it is not going to be accurate, especially if it could affect property prices."

Haverfordwest estate agent Mike Woods who works for Lucas RK & Son said it had a number of rental properties in the street, but had not encountered broadband connection status as an issue.

"Clients often do query broadband as part of their property search criteria," he said.

"And this is certainly something that proves problematic in areas further away from the town.

"Furzy Park has clearly been ranked here on statistics based on averages relating to a postcode, and as such isn't painting an accurate picture."

Katherine Cooper, a spokeswoman for uSwitch.com, said the results had been collated from an average speeds test created by internet users who had run speed checks tests on their website.

"The speed tests gathered from each postcode area has generated this average figure," she said.

"This would indicate that some users are clearly experiencing very low speeds. There are many factors which could affect this.

"We also realise that those tending to run checks will be those people who are experiencing problems with slow broadband speeds."

Tackling slow broadband connections has been identified as a priority by the Welsh Government.

In July, it announced an ambitious target to see the whole of Wales have access to broadband of 30mbps by 2015.

Households, businesses and organisations in communities where connectivity is less than 512kilobits per second were previously eligible to apply for grants of up to pounds 1,000 to improve their internet service. The scheme is now being extended to include "slowspots" where download speeds are less than 2mbps.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 22, 2011
Words:650
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