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Update on Superfast Broadband Coverage for Schools in Wales

Monday, October 29th, 2018 (10:33 am) - Score 647
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The Welsh Government‘s Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM, has issued a useful update on the work of expanding “superfast broadband” into schools. Overall all but 6 maintained schools (i.e. those run by local authorities) in Wales now have “access” to such speeds, but quite a few aren’t benefiting.

In response to a question from Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Welsh Conservative Party), Kirsty noted that work is progressing at five of the six remaining schools, with an estimated completion date of 31st January 2019 and this is dependent upon Openreach’s (BT) contractors.

Meanwhile one remaining school, Ysgol Llanychllwydog (Pembrokeshire), continues to “present logistical challenges for our suppliers, primarily due to the school’s location within the boundaries of the Pembrokeshire National Park“. Officials are said to be working with the local authority and BT to investigate options to provide improvements to the school’s connectivity, and potentially the wider community.

However Kirsty noted that “for schools to fully benefit from the superfast broadband service, additional in-school activities now need to be completed, such as upgrading the network cabinets in schools or the removal of rate limits from in-school routers.” The table below represents the number of schools, by local authority, who are “not currently benefitting from superfast speeds.”

A programme of work is said to be “already underway“, in conjunction with the BT Public Service Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) team, local authorities and schools to “ensure the full benefits of superfast connectivity can be realised.” This programme is expected to be delivered by 31st March 2019.

NOTE: According to this page, Wales is home to 1,521 “maintained” schools and we count 448 below that are deemed to be “not currently benefitting from superfast speeds.
Local Authority Number of Schools
Blaenau Gwent 2
Bridgend 5
Caerphilly 24
Cardiff 21
Carmarthenshire 42
Ceredigion 11
Conwy 33
Denbighshire 10
Flintshire 4
Gwynedd 67
Isle of Anglesey 8
Neath Port Talbot 6
Newport 11
Pembrokeshire 5
Powys 55
Rhondda Cynon Taf 61
Swansea 48
Wrexham 35

A couple of years ago the WG announced that it had committed an additional £5m to help upgrade the broadband connectivity for around 400 schools (here). This was on top of an announcement in 2013, which saw the WG launch a new grant scheme (Learning in Digital Wales) that offered £39m to help ensure that all of the country’s “participating” Schools would have access to “world-class broadband services” (here). Back then the eventual goal was to get all schools, participating or not, upgraded by 2020.

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Mark Jackson
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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3 Responses
  1. Gary

    Ysgol in the National park is difficult? Pathetic really, I’m assuming they have power and a telephones there across national park land, no excuse for fibre to present any ‘real’ problem.

    • Martin Jones

      The school will be fed from a direct Ethernet access line from the exchange rather than through the telephone line so the logistics of getting this across national park land will cause difficulties. It’s not just a case of putting a router in the schools and switching it on!! This will provide the schools with secure internet access at ultra fast speeds something that most of the remainder of UK schools could only dream of.

  2. Gary

    Kind of missed my point Martin, Which was, Like i stated, if they have a telephone line Over National Park land then why should running Fibre on National park land present a greater Logistical challenge.

    Thanks for pointing out that Superfast connectivity isn’t just a case of plugging in a new router and switching it on !! Somehow I seem to have missed this vital information over the course of the BDUK rollout.

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