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Broadband Woes Interrupt Meeting of the Welsh Parliament

Thursday, October 15th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 984
welsh_parliament_plenary_13th_oct_2020_broadband_fail

The curse of flaky internet connectivity has struck again. A Plenary meeting of the Welsh Parliament had to be suspended for several minutes on Tuesday afternoon after a live video link to the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister and Chief Whip, Jane Hutt MS, froze as she was responding to a question.

After a few moments of inactivity David Melding MS (pictured) ordered that the proceeding be suspended until they could “unfreeze the Deputy Minister,” which appeared to draw a few muted giggles from across the chamber. A few minutes after that the live feed returned and a brief statement was issued.

I regret to inform Members that we’ve not been able to re-establish a connection to the Deputy Minister’s broadband. We were near the end of that item and I’m afraid I’m going to have to apologise to Joyce Watson, who I was going to call as the final speaker to put a question, but my apologies, Joyce, I’m afraid the technology has defeated us,” said Mr Melding.

You can see a video of the event below.

Admittedly it’s by no means the first time (here) that internet connectivity problems have disrupted a normal democratic debate. The COVID-19 crisis has forced a large number of politicians to engage in debates remotely via live video conferencing systems, which has on occasion only served to help highlight the problems that some parts of the country continue to experience.

In fairness we can’t analyse the exact cause of this specific loss of connectivity and there could be other factors at work (e.g. consumer choice of ISP package, remote server issues, computer crash, weak home WiFi, local congestion on the network etc.), but since MPs come from all over the country then some will inevitably be living in areas of poor connectivity.

As an aside to this the UK Government’s Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, David T. C. Davies, yesterday told a commons chamber debate how he was “pleased that 50% of premises in Wales have access to full-fibre broadband, compared with only 14% in the UK as a whole.” Except the most recent figure from Ofcom for Wales is 15% (here), so we assume that 50% is a transcription error or he just got it very wrong.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. AndyC says:

    So how long before all ministers get a uncontented full fiber connection to their homes on us?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Probably at about the same time as the surrounding community does.

  2. Captain Bob says:

    Now we know why Spectrum got £200M to roll out full-fibre broadband in Wales. Cannot come soon enough it seems

    1. Aled Morris says:

      The investment in Spectrum announced this week was entirely private money, not taxpayers. You’re right about the timing though.

  3. Buggerlugz says:

    Throwing huge chunks of money at a dead horse IMHO. How many more billions will be chucked at FULL-FIBRE like its some panacea to solve all the UK’s connectivity problems?

    1. John says:

      I cm honestly can’t tell if that’s sarcasm of not…

  4. Richard Smales says:

    Is it broadband or is it poor wifi signal at home?

    Most of my friends and relatives have complained about broadband but when I do a speed test for them from the router the latency and bandwidth are fine. In every case it’s been that they are expecting one wifi router tucked away in a cupboard to provide wifi all over the house.

    1. Paul says:

      I came here to say the same thing! If she has a connection with any of the UK ISP’s then we all know that the basic router offering often fall short, whilst speed with mine was never issue it was about reliability and not needing to be prepared to reboot it every now and then.

      After spending a decent chunk of cash on a better router those issues have evaporated.

      Many people also do not understand when the issue is local rather their provider or line, so often the broadband is blamed which it’s not the cause.

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      The article already makes this point.

    3. Paul says:

      Well then, I should learn to read better!

  5. Mark Scott says:

    Wonder if she was using Jabber?

  6. Anon-e-mouse says:

    The same thing happened with Ian Blackford a few days ago when he did a VC with Westminster and it was broadcast live.

    There was me thinking MPs were probably sat at the end of a tax payer paid for FTTPoD line

    1. Retr0 says:

      Remember, they need to be cheap so they won’t have one until its already live with the current programmes.

    2. GNewton says:

      “There was me thinking MPs were probably sat at the end of a tax payer paid for FTTPoD line”

      FTTPoD is as good as dead, very few installs per year, and often taking a year or so to implement for a premise. Not to mention that it is hopelessly overpriced. Certainly not a on-Demand product!

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