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79,000 Premises in Wales Remain Without Superfast Broadband UPDATE

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020 (2:22 pm) - Score 1,355

The Welsh Government (WG) has today issued a short update on their various broadband schemes, which among other things reveals that 79,000 properties (categorised as “white premises”) still do not have access to “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) and won’t benefit from any future roll-out plans within the next 3 years.

At present the WG has an on-going £22.5m Phase 2 Superfast Cymru contract with Openreach (BT), which aims to extend “gigabit-capable” Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology to a further 26,000 premises by March 2021 (here and here). So far this contract is already known to have completed 8,283 premises from its target (May 2020 progress update).

NOTE: The Phase 2 contract is focused on tackling premises in the final 4% of Wales that can’t yet access speeds of 30Mbps+.

On top of that the WG has now posted the final outcome of their latest Open Market Review (OMR) which, after factoring in the above contract and other commercial developments, has found that a total of 79,000 propertiesdo not have access to superfast broadband and are not in any plans to be given access in the next three years” (see further below for a regional breakdown of that figure).

The WG states that one of the ways they intend to tackle this gap is by using some of their remaining broadband funding to top-up vouchers under the UK Government’s £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme (due to run until March 2021), which normally offers up to £3,500 for small rural businesses and up to £1,500 for homes to get a “gigabit-capable” connection. But this will now be doubled for rural Wales.

WG Statement

We will continue to support those still not connected through our range of measures. Members will be aware that the Welsh Government has been providing a top-up to the UK Government led Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to reflect the higher costs of providing full fibre connectivity in Wales. The scheme has now come to an end and has been replaced by the Rural Gigabit Connectivity project.

I am pleased to inform you that we are again stepping in to provide additional Welsh Government resources to give Wales a generous package of measures not bettered anywhere in the UK. We will provide a Wales top-up for the new scheme of an additional £1,500 for residential properties and £3,500 for businesses. This will take the maximum available to premises in Wales to £3,000 and £7,000 respectively. To help focus the funding on properties that need it most only ‘white’ premises will be eligible. The top-up funding will only be released when the UK funding ceilings are breached.

As clearly demonstrated in the findings of the OMR there remain homes and businesses in Wales that aren’t being served by the market. So we are using our funding to deliver new and innovative ways of connecting whole communities working with local government and social enterprises through our £10 million Local Broadband Fund, which I outlined in November last year. Work on the fund had been paused because resources both within the Welsh Government and local authorities have been redeployed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, however, the scheme is now underway.

Unfortunately the WG still doesn’t say precisely how the £10m Local Broadband Fund will actually work, although we assume that it may form some kind of co-funded approach like Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnerships (CFP) scheme. In any case £10m is still just a drop in the ocean of what will actually be needed to plug the gap.

The big X factor in all this is how much public investment will be coming to Wales as a result of Boris Johnson’s (PM) new £5bn commitment to have “gigabit-capable broadband … sprouting in every household” by the end of 2025, which is focused on the final 20% of UK premises and will no doubt also help to tackle some of the remaining problem areas.

Now here’s how that 79,000 figure is being broken down by area.

Breakdown by local authority (Wales)

Local Authority White
BLAENAU GWENT 1,354
BRIDGEND 2,403
CAERPHILLY COUNTY BOROUGH 2,017
CARDIFF 2,769
CARMARTHENSHIRE 9,480
CEREDIGION 5,246
CHESHIRE WEST AND CHESTER * 3
CONWY 3,295
DENBIGHSHIRE 4,509
FLINTSHIRE 2,970
GLOUCESTERSHIRE * 1
GWYNEDD 6,006  
ISLE OF ANGLESEY 2,801
MERTHYR TYDFIL 805
MONMOUTHSHIRE 2,405
NEATH PORT TALBOT 1,650
NEWPORT 2,013
PEMBROKESHIRE 6,366
POWYS 10,701
RHONDDA CYNON TAFF 3,544
SHROPSHIRE * 5
SWANSEA 3,052
TORFAEN 1,071
VALE OF GLAMORGAN 1,857
WREXHAM 2,700
Total 79,023

* These premises are physically within Wales but are categorised by Address Base Premium as being associated with an English Local Authority.

UPDATE 4:24pm

The UK Government have now issued a separate press release to confirm the aforementioned voucher change, which is apparently being made available to 50,000 premises in Wales (we assume it’s not 79,000 due to a quirk of eligibility somewhere, perhaps with the speed criteria).

Matt Warman, UK Government Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said:

“Our £1.8 billion superfast broadband programme transformed Wales’ digital landscape, allowing many people to work remotely during lockdown.

We are now focusing on future-proofing internet networks with gigabit speeds and, working with the Welsh Government, I am pleased to offer even more vital funding to bring this next-generation connectivity to rural businesses and homes.

I encourage all those who qualify to apply to feel the benefits of much faster internet connections.”

Lee Waters, Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, said:

“Fast, reliable internet is vital for our communities, as the covid-19 outbreak has highlighted. Following our Superfast Cymru programme 95 per cent of premises in Wales can access faster broadband, and we need to look at innovative ways to reach the final five per cent.

We are pleased to provide this top up for the UK Government’s scheme which takes into account the challenges of reaching some premises in rural areas. I would urge communities and businesses to explore the options these vouchers will offer so they can access some of the fastest speeds available.”

Anyone who is interested can use the postcode checker at the following link to find registered suppliers in their area and their chosen supplier will then guide them through the application. For more information and to check eligibility visit: https://gigabitvoucher.culture.gov.uk .

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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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20 Responses
  1. Avatar a welshman

    a few exchanges near carmarthen have had fibre tubing coiled around the poles for a few years now and still no sign of it actually being put up the pole let alone being fired up to use . and having worked for bt and openreach for years ( now retired ) i feel embarrassed

    • Avatar Fastman

      its probably manifold and splitters which is not the way openreach now deploys FTTP (connectorised Block) so not use anyway – migth not even be connected to anything and just left

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Meanwhile BT group sit on £788m intended to complete areas like this. Furthermore we have seen no public confirmation of the scale, timing or payment of BT’s contribution to allowable costs in the superfast projects.

    • Avatar Fastman

      NGA

      reinvested money is called gainshare as you well know –

      which is why more premises have been added

      different day same record !!!

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Fastman, BT capital contributions to allowable costs for these projects have not been published. The BT contributions should be consistent with the commercial roll out if gap funding was working.

      Gainshare is a PR term, also known by some project managers as dribble back. A Capital Deferral is an accounting treatment for monies owed. It may or may not be the same.

      We were promised ‘true-ups’; it would to see those so some more of these 79,000 can get the upgrades they have waiting.

      This is especially important in Wales as so more full fibre was promised.

    • Avatar The Facts

      @NGA – how much full fibre was ‘promised’ in Wales?

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Facts, it is online if you look for it. It should be enough that OR engineers are frustrated with works which are incomplete.

    • Avatar The Facts

      @NGA – strange that you cannot just give us all the number.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Facts, just for you then..According to Page 5 of the Audit Wales 2015 report, BT would deliver 40% of the intervention area where customers could access 100Mbps or more. BT had not explained how it intended to achieve this to the Welsh Government.

      Billing £300 a premise (a unit cost- not actual costs) where FTTC costs varied from £60 (urban) to ~£200 for rural before BT’s matched funding would permit a significant amount of FTTP. The costs has not been reconciled in 2018.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      The 40% was never a 40% WBC FTTP availability, it was more about the fabled fibre on demand that some still see as a solution to the worlds broadband ills. Reality for some it is a solution but an awfully expensive one now, as the pricing is set so as to not divert resources from other FTTP build where lots more premises can be passed using the same amount of work hours.

    • Avatar GNewton

      @TheFacts: “strange that you cannot just give us all the number.”

      Strange why you wouldn’t want to use Google.

      E.g. the search term “BT Audit Wales 2015 report” brings a link to the relevant PDF document right on top of the search results!

  2. Avatar A welshman

    Its just tubing it is hollow no fibre once the tubling is in place then the fibre is blown down it and then spliced

  3. Avatar AimDev

    Interesting, is there figures for england available?

  4. Avatar Gary

    Doubled up top up voucher to 3k max for a rural home ! Sorry but that doesn’t even make a dent in the FTTPod quotes for rural properties. I got a -quote for 40k with a 750 ‘discount’ for 1 additional property served, despite the fact a moron could have covered at least 4 properties close to me with a bespoke deployment. So 4 at 3k each is 12k off a price of 40k so a mere 7k each surplus to pay

  5. Avatar Buggerlugz

    How in 2020 is 30Meg superfast? Really? Who sets these standards???

    • Avatar 125us

      Each new generation of tech and bandwidth has a different name. Nothing would be gained other than confusion by redefining existing terms as new ones come along. No-one has proposed redefining 100Mbps ‘fast’ Ethernet as ‘slow’ Ethernet now that 10Gbps is a common standard.

  6. Avatar Buggerlugz

    Probably because 100Mbps deserves the rating “fast” whereas 30mb does not deserve the moniker “superfast” by any stretch of the imagination.

    Maybe its a British cop-out because the quality and speed of UK broadband is generally so poor for a developed nation?

    • Avatar 125us

      The UK is comfortably in the top 20% worldwide in terms of availability, throughout and affordability.

  7. Avatar anon.

    admin – time to ban GNewton for stalking/trolling The Facts.

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