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Wales to Unveil New BT Superfast Broadband Contract Next Week UPDATE2

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 (4:53 pm) - Score 1,274
wales uk future

The Welsh Government has today confirmed that it will be making a statement on the new “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) contract next week, which could be worth up to £200m and tentatively aims to reach an additional 88,000 premises in poorly served areas. A strong focus on “full fibre” (FTTP) connectivity is expected.

At present around 95% of homes and businesses across Wales are already estimated to be within reach of a superfast network, which is partly due to commercial deployments. On top of that the original state aid supported Superfast Cymru project with Openreach (BT) has also worked to extend the reach of fibre-based FTTC and FTTP ISP technologies to 733,000 premises (here), although that contract has now ended.

By comparison the new Phase 2 follow-on scheme, which was put out to tender at the start of 2018 (here and here), aspires to extend 30Mbps+ capable networks to “every property” in Wales. The potential value of this new project is up to £200m, although the first tender document only confirmed about £62.5m and is initially targeting an expansion to around 88,000 additional premises.

Lot 1 — North West Wales (Estimated value: £14.858m)
Intervention Area of 21,125 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 29820 premises potentially available pending further information.

Lot 2 — East Wales (Estimated value: £21.706m)
Intervention Area of 30,862 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 21183 premises potentially available pending further information.

Lot 3 — South West Wales (Estimated value: £25.436m)
Intervention Area of 36,166 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 17552 premises potentially available pending further information.

Under the original plan we had been expecting a contract to be awarded before the summer recess but sadly that never happened. Instead Julie James AM, Leader of the House and Chief Whip, recently admitted that their procurement process had been “complex with a number of unforeseen issues arising” (here). This is hardly surprising given the desire for more “full fibre” in remote rural areas, which is challenging to cost and deliver.

The good news is that we appear set to learn some solid details of the new contract next week. A number of broadband related questions were asked during this afternoon’s Plenary event of the National Assembly (details) and many of them made references to “a statement [being made] on the new contract next week.” The conversation suggested we should learn more about the roll-out plan and supplier.

Julie James AM said:

“You’ll be able to see, once we have the contracts, which premises are and are not included, because we’ve deliberately tendered it in that way

Sadly there’s not much more that could be pulled out of today’s event.

UPDATE 12th October 2018

Thanks to one of our readers (Steve) for point us toward a transcript from another broadband related discussion this week, which sees the First Minister appear to confirm that BT will supply the new contract.

Question by Paul Davies AM: Diolch, Llywydd. First Minister, can you explain to the people of Wales why the new contract for delivering broadband services has still not been rolled out?

Answer by Carwyn Jones AM: Well, that is a matter that we’re taking up with BT. They are the only provider, of course—there’s no competition in this market. And we are ensuring that BT will roll out that contract and provide the services that we’ve paid for.

We had suspected that this might be the outcome given previous comments about completing unfinished Openreach FTTP deployments in Phase 2 and the use of gainshare returned by BT so early in the Phase 2 funding pot.

UPDATE 15th October 2018

A quick check of the WG’s calendar reveals that the broadband update, which was planned for 16th October, has now been “postponed until 23 October 2018.”

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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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2 Responses
  1. Brian Jones

    I will not hold my breath as we were originally informed we would get hs broadband in 2015, we have had coiled up fibre attached to a post opposite home since 2017.

  2. Simon W

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for putting together this really useful website. Like Brian above i’ve had fibre attached to the telephone post which currently serves my house with copper. I also had a dialogue with a BT project manager back in late 2017 who said i should the infrastructure was complete and they were in testing phase for the connections. I also checked with BT and sub-contractors on the status everytime they appeared in the street. The BT Openreach web page reflected the project status correctly as well. But come February, it the status was set to “We are exploring solutions”. Plain wrong.

    Anyway keep up this useful web site. If you are interested and the WA don’t change their mind again, this topic is currently item 5 on todays plenary session which will start at 13:30 today. See: http://www.senedd.assembly.wales/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=401&MId=5359

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