By: MarkJ - 4 November, 2010 (8:08 AM)
wales mapA leaked internal note from the UK coalition government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has revealed the real reason behind why Wales was not included in several recently announced "super-fast" Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband pilots; it's plan was apparently rubbish.

The leaked note to Wales Online said:

"...it was evident from the proposal that we received from WAG (Welsh Assembly Government) that they had not put much effort into applying for a pilot – there was more text in one answer box in the Herefordshire proposal than in the entire Welsh proposal.

The Welsh pilot proposal was to use the existing FibreSpeed project (where WAG has given money to Geo to create a fibre network in North Wales connecting business parks) as the basis for extending this fibre to a number of areas in North West Wales and then use a mixture of fibre and high speed wireless.

While the extension of an existing project provided benefits in terms of an existing team and a ready made strategic infrastructure investment, the potential lack of competitive tension (as Geo is already the FibreSpeed supplier), the difficulty of applying lessons learned elsewhere (FibreSpeed probably isn’t replicable) and the lack of diversity of lessons learned meant that the other proposals were more attractive as pilots."

The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) first raised its frustrations last month after the Chancellor's (George Osborne) Spending Review (here) only listed four pilot locations in the Highlands and Islands (Scotland), Cumbria, North Yorkshire and the Golden Valley, Herefordshire (England).

The Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, did little to help by suggesting that its Herefordshire pilot was "on the border" and would benefit some parts of Wales too. However an Assembly Government spokesman claims that it did, "put together a robust case for Wales", and was surprised by the new document.

WAG has subsequently blamed any limited input on the fact that they were specifically asked by the government to stay within the application template so as to make the process, "easier for (DCMS) to manage".
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