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733000 Premises in Wales Covered by Faster Broadband via Gov Project

Thursday, July 19th, 2018 (12:23 pm) - Score 711
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Openreach (BT) has today announced that the completion of their joint Superfast Cymru contract with the Welsh Government has resulted in 733,000 extra premises across Wales being put within reach of faster broadband ISP speeds, which drops to 717,000 for those able to access “superfast” speeds of 30Mbps+.

The original contract, which was supported by a public investment of £225m (including some from Broadband Delivery UK), required Openreach to deploy a mix of their Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC / VDSL2) and ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technologies (48,700 of the total have so far got the latter). The aim was to put superfast broadband speeds within reach of 95% and they’ve broadly achieved that.

According to the latest estimates (models) from Thinkbroadband, some 94.25% of premises should now be within reach of ordering a 30Mbps+ capable broadband service (TBB’s data is usually a bit more pessimistic than official government figures, which are probably at 95%).

In addition, some 4.83% of premises can order a “full fibre” (FTTP/H) connection and Virgin Media’s cable network is available to just 28.75% (mostly in urban areas). Sadly though 3.92% of premises are in areas that may struggle to get the proposed Universal Service Obligation’s (USO) minimum download speed of 10Mbps (1Mbps upload).

Julie James AM said:

“Superfast Cymru has undoubtedly been a success and has delivered a real step change in the availability of superfast broadband across the whole country. Of all those with access in Wales over half are as a result of our intervention – that in itself shows the positive impact this programme has had.

Whole local authority areas would have been untouched by superfast broadband rollout without Superfast Cymru – now there is not one local authority area without access. Wales has some of the highest speeds in the UK in remote areas with the use of Fibre to the Premises.

Deploying broadband at this scale and pace in the Welsh landscape, particularly rural areas, has proved extremely challenging and innovative solutions have had to be used at times such as drones.

While the programme has successfully changed the digital landscape in Wales, I am very aware that there remain premises without access and we are now working on how to reach these.”

Kim Mears, MD of Openreach, said:

“Thanks to this project, homes and businesses in some of the most rural parts of Wales now have fast and reliable connections that will support all manner of data-hungry services and applications, such as telehealth, virtual and augmented reality and smart home devices, for decades into the future.

Fibre broadband coverage has more than doubled as a result of our roll-out, and Wales now has the largest full fibre to the home footprint in Britain.

We’re already building the next generation of future proof digital infrastructure for Wales and the UK, and our ambition is to build faster, more reliable full fibre broadband technology to 3m front doors by 2020.

Cardiff is among the first cities to benefit from our build programme, and that will make it one of the best connected cities in the world.

We’ll also continue to extend our full fibre network into rural parts Wales.”

Meanwhile the Welsh Government are already busy developing a new follow-on scheme of their own to tackle the remaining 80,000+ premises in the final 5% (here and here), which aspires to make “fast reliable broadband” (defined as 30Mbps+) available to “every property” in Wales and will focus on “full fibre” connectivity. The potential value of this project is up to £200m, of which £62.5m has already been confirmed.

One disappointment today is that we had expected the Welsh Government to confirm which suppliers had been chosen or short-listed for the aforementioned contract, although that doesn’t appear to have been included in the update and we’ll now get that in the autumn.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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