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Wales UK to Name and Shame Fibre Broadband Obstructing Land Owners

Wednesday, Jul 8th, 2015 (12:10 pm) - Score 607

The Welsh Government (WG) has pledged to “name and shame” private landlords in Wales who are making it difficult to deploy new fixed line superfast broadband services, most often by either delaying or refusing to give permission for BTOpenreach’s telecoms engineers to access the sites.

The issue is by no means a new one and often crops up. For example, the UK Government’s attempts to improve national mobile coverage have frequently run into problems when trying to tackle complex disputes related to the high access charges for private land (e.g. wayleave agreements) and or height limits on wireless masts.

On the one hand it’s easy to understand the gripes, after all few would be happy for a big street cabinet or wireless mast to be forcibly installed in their back garden. But on the other hand we’re not generally talking about small gardens. Instead the issue tends to reference huge rural fields or other big spaces, which can often be owned by farmers or even big foreign companies.

Apparently the Superfast Cymru project, which yesterday announced plans to extend “fibre broadband” (FTTC/P) services to another 42,000 premises (here), needs to install 3,000 FTTC street cabinets on highways and private; not to mention all the necessary copper and fibre optic cabling that goes alongside.

Some private landlords are happy to help, while others seem to have very little interest in assisting the effort. The WG claims to be effectively powerless to stop private land owners from blocking access and instead all they can do is attempt to lobby related groups and organisations via a policy of naming and shaming those most responsible.

Jenny Rathbone, Labour AM, said (Daily Post):

I think the public would be rather shocked if they knew that some company in a foreign land somewhere has the ability to simply not reply and therefore prevent a community getting the broadband.”

At some point a solution needs to be found between the requirement to upgrade infrastructure in a cost effective way and the need to balance that with fair respect to land owners.

The Welsh Government’s director of finance and performance, Simon Jenkins, notes that the problem in Northern Wales is currently fairly rare, although as the project pushes out into more remote areas then it’s expected to become a bigger issue.

Other than lobbying and naming and shaming at the moment we probably don’t have a huge amount of weapons in our armoury there … There will be a limited number where we will have said the shutters are down on that one, therefore we can’t do those premises,” said Jenkins.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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