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UPD CityFibre Slams Broadband Connectivity in Wales as “not fit for purpose”

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 (9:02 am) - Score 1,093

Fibre optic infrastructure developer CityFibre, which recently announced plans to build a new fibre optic Public Sector Network in the city of Newport (here), has criticised business broadband connectivity in Wales as being “not fit for purpose” because, they claim, the “copper networks that were laid generations ago” are still holding the country back.

The comments come on the same day that the central UK Government (Wales Office) has celebrated news of “one million homes and businesses in Wales [being] enabled to access some of the fastest broadband in the world” (note: the BDUK and BT supported Superfast Cymru scheme has helped to deliver 300,000 of those).

Never the less CityFibre highlights the results of their new online YouGov poll of 104 IT decision makers who are middle managers or above in businesses across Wales.

According to the poll, some 65% of respondents felt as if broadband in Wales is worse than in other parts of the UK and that’s despite 67% saying citing Internet connectivity as being a vital support for economic growth. Furthermore 9% said their firms would consider relocating their business to get better broadband.

Greg Mesch, CityFibre’s CEO, said:

Fast, reliable broadband connectivity is completely vital in modern business. The fact that 82% of the IT decision makers we polled agree and yet nearly half (47%) of them rate their current service as substandard should be a real concern.

The challenge is the speed of technology development. Every day there is new technology that is changing the way we do business but that needs faster and faster digital connectivity. Copper networks that were laid generations ago serve the majority of Wales and they are not fit for purpose. Even if you connect that copper to fibre further into the network, the bottleneck will mean that speeds, capabilities and innovation will still be restricted.

At CityFibre we are taking pure-fibre networks to towns and cities across the UK, providing public and private sector users with responsive ultrafast speeds of 1000 Mbps (Megabits per second). We already have Gigabit City projects in York, Peterborough, Coventry, and Aberdeen.

Earlier this month we crossed the Severn into Wales launching our first project in Newport in conjunction with Logicalis. This pure fibre network will support future smart technologies as the city evolves.”

Mesch also hinted that CityFibre were already looking forward to “laying even more roots down in the country“, which is a clear hint towards their plans to expand into more cities or possibly large towns across Wales.

Meanwhile the Superfast Cymru project will continue with its aim to make faster “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) speeds of up to 80Mbps available to 96% of Welsh premises by the end of spring 2016 and plans are already being developed to extend this coverage.

No doubt BT would counter that two advantages of taking the hybrid-fibre dominated approach is that it’s significantly cheaper and faster to deploy than pure fibre, albeit admittedly a lot slower for top speeds. The Welsh Government’s scheme is also catering for homes and not merely businesses.

UPDATE 12th Feb 2015

BT has given us their reaction to CityFibre’s criticism and accused them of cherry-picking the most lucrative areas.

Bill Murphy, BT Group’s MD of Next Generation Access, told ISPreview.co.uk:

No company is investing more than BT to improve broadband speeds in Wales. Wales already has superfast broadband coverage on a par with Germany, and better than France, Spain and Italy. That coverage will continue to increase through 2015 and 2016 thanks to huge investment from BT, local and national government.

The Superfast Cymru partnership is still rolling out fibre broadband at breakneck speed across Wales and BT’s fibre network has just passed one million premises. We plan to add hundreds of thousands more in partnership with the public sector.

We’d love to just cherry-pick the lucrative high-density urban areas like City Fibre, but thanks to BT’s approach fibre broadband now stretches into deeply rural parts of Wales where residential populations are sparse. With our approach, we’re able to avoid disruptive civil engineering work and get the maximum number of people connected possible, as fast as possible. It’s an approach that’s being copied in other countries. Our network also gives people a choice of more than one hundred providers, which brings intense competition and low prices, rather than locking people into taking their service from a single company.”

Murphy also touched on the issue of Newport specifically.

Bill Murphy added:

According to Ofcom 2013 figures, 84% of Newport could already access superfast speeds, and that continues to increase. Our engineers are working in the city centre right now, and we upgraded more than 4,000 premises in the Local Authority area during 2014 via the Superfast Cymru programme. That included some FTTP connections.

Of course, every business in Newport can order a dedicated business connection with speeds of up to 10Gbps and there is more investment in Newport to come. BT’s Ethernet services are the most competitively priced in the whole of Europe.

The City Fibre network is not the solution that IT decision makers in the YouGov survey seem to want. It will only provide a network for the purposes of CCTV in Newport as it was not procured for business or residential purposes.”

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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.
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