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Wales Makes it Easier for Homes to Get Access Broadband Cymru Grants

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 (1:23 pm) - Score 570
wales abc broadband eligibility

The Welsh Government‘s Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) scheme, which offers grants worth up to £1,000 per premise in areas which have “slow broadband connections” (i.e. sub-2Mbps), has in an attempt to correct for earlier criticisms been opened up to more homes and businesses (including those in areas that could already benefit from Superfast Cymru investment with BT).

Some might recall that the new initiative, which replaced the almost identical Broadband Support Scheme (BSS), first went live in September last year (here). Unlike the original BSS the new ABC scheme was designed to work alongside the Superfast Cymru project, which also meant that it could only be used in areas where BT’s related “fibre broadband” (FTTC) rollout wouldn’t go.

On the surface this approach seemed perfectly reasonable (i.e. avoiding duplication of the public investment), except for the fact that the Welsh Government had defined coverage by telephone exchange areas and not street cabinet / street level coverage (BT rarely ever covers 100% of a telephone exchange area with FTTC) and this caused a few concerns (here).

The good news is that those living within Superfast Cymru (Superfast Wales) areas can now apply for an ABC grant if they wish to do so. In addition, the Welsh Government will provide a maximum of £900 per premises, with customers also being required to make a 10% financial contribution which is “in line with the cost of connection fees across the industry” (not strictly accurate given all the “free install” promotions).

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, told ISPreview.co.uk:

The new scheme rules will mean that it better complements Superfast Cymru and will help those people who are later in the Superfast Cymru roll-out. Many more people will be eligible for funding under the scheme. We are also ensuring that households and businesses can get a superfast broadband connection so that they are on a par with Superfast Cymru.

We are asking people to contribute towards the cost and to carefully consider whether they should apply for the grant or wait for Superfast Cymru to come to their area. This will help ensure we provide value for money for the public purse.”

Applicants can also expect to be given information about the Superfast Cymru roll-out so that they can make a decision about whether to apply for a grant or wait for BT’s “superfast fibre” to be deployed in their area. The changes to the scheme will come into effect on 4th August 2014.

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