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Wales Extends BT FTTP Broadband Rollout to 39,000 Premises UPDATE

Monday, July 20th, 2020 (12:59 pm) - Score 4,983
telegraph_pole_fttp_openreach_engineers_rural

The Welsh Government (WG) has just announced that their Phase 2 Superfast Cymru contract with BT (Openreach), which is currently building a 1Gbps capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to cover 26,000 premises by March 2021 (here and here), is to be extended to reach 39,000 premises.

The original Phase 2 contract was supported by a public investment of £22.5m, while today’s announcement states that the new “extension will be funded by £30m from the Welsh Government and European Union, with additional investment from Openreach.” Assuming that is £22.5m + £30m (£52.5m total) then the extension is quite a bit more expensive, which would be indicative of the fact that costs tend to rise disproportionately as the roll-out reaches increasingly remote areas.

NOTE: The Phase 2 deal has so far completed 8,283 premises and is focused on tackling the final 4% of Wales that can’t yet access “superfast” speeds of 30Mbps+.

Readers may recall that the target of 26,000 premises was due to be completed by March 2021, although the addition of another 13,000 homes and businesses to that plan means this completion date has been pushed back to June 2022. In case it wasn’t already obvious from the above introduction, all of the premises in this extension will get FTTP coverage.

All of this comes only a few weeks after the WG revealed that 79,000 properties were still categorised as “white premises” (here), which means they don’t have access to “superfast broadband” and won’t benefit from any future roll-out plans within the next 3 years. We assume this figure can now be reduced to 66,000, which still leaves a fairly big gap to fill.

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

“The covid-19 outbreak has brought into sharp relief the importance of fast and reliable broadband. While the vast majority of premises in Wales have access to superfast broadband, thanks to the earlier Welsh Government intervention through Superfast Cymru, we know we need to reach the final premises without access.

The fibre rollout is part of a package of measures to do just that. The 39,000 premises to benefit from this will have future-proofed fibre to the premises which provides some of the fastest broadband speeds possible. The additional premises I’m announcing today are in areas where coverage is below 90 per cent, so we can make the biggest difference.

Fibre rollout is not the solution for every premises without access to superfast broadband, which is why we have a number of other schemes including the Access Broadband Cymru scheme, the Local Broadband Fund and the Welsh top-up to the UK Government Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme.

While broadband is not devolved, we are determined to take action where we can to improve connectivity across all parts of Wales.”

Connie Dixon, Partnership Director for Openreach in Wales, said:

“We’re delighted to be able to build our next-generation full fibre network even further across rural Wales as a result of this extension. The Coronavirus lockdown has reminded everyone that having a decent broadband connection is more important than ever for both businesses and homes – no matter where you live or work.

So we’re excited to be able to build on the success of our existing partnership with the Welsh Government. Despite the impact of the pandemic, our key worker engineers have continued to build and maintain our network across Wales and have already connected more than 8,000 homes and businesses with full fibre all the way from the exchange to their property – bringing with it access to among the fastest and most reliable broadband connections in both the UK and Europe.”

The new deal is a good improvement over the original Phase 2 announcement, which was somewhat underwhelming after it was only able to harness £22.5m from a pot of £62m that had previously been confirmed for the project. Lest we forget that the WG has also set aside £10m for a Local Broadband Fund, although we’re still awaiting some solid details of how that will work (it sounds like a community co-funding scheme).

Otherwise there remains a big question mark over how much public investment will be coming to Wales as a result of Boris Johnson’s (UK PM) new £5bn commitment to have “gigabit-capable broadband … sprouting in every household” by the end of 2025 (more recently this has become an aim to “go as far as we possibly can by 2025“), which is focused on the final 20% of UK premises and will no doubt also help to tackle the remaining problem areas.

UPDATE 22nd July 2020

The WG has also released a breakdown to show the distribution of the updated roll-out plan across Wales, which we’ve pasted below.

Wales Phase 2 fttp broadband rollout areas

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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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18 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew says:

    This is good to hear hopefully there is future contracts announced that push wales closer to 0 premises.

  2. Avatar Regor I’m a bit backward says:

    How come the European Union are still funding uk projects? Is this going to cost us further down the line.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Part of the initial agreement recognised that some investment schemes and contracts would conclude after the UK left the EU, so they allowed some flexibility for that. Plus at present we’re still in the EU, at least until the end of December.

    2. Avatar EU Pedant says:

      “Plus at present we’re still in the EU, at least until the end of December.” Not true, the UK left the EU on 31-01-20. There’s a transition period ending 31-12-20 but the UK is not an EU member state.

    3. Avatar Jason Sheehan says:

      EU funding? You mean EU giving back our money under their label don’t you? Lol

    4. Avatar CarlT says:

      Not sure the people of Cornwall would really care as long as they get what they were promised.

  3. Avatar Alan Williams says:

    Is there a list of properties now included?

  4. Avatar Nick says:

    Where I live I get 1.5 – 3 mg. BT have told me there no plans to improve speed due to being rural. So this is a load of rubbish

  5. Avatar Stephen says:

    Any news on LLANDYSUL getting FTTP, I get FIBRE, but NOT FTTP, they’ve not built it here yet.

    Any information, please?

  6. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    The main point I take from this is that if these are indicative subsidy costs (£1400) then any £5bn promised would only support around 3.5m premises with FTTP which would probably cover Rural Hamlet and Isolated Dwellings, Rural Village and fringes of Rural Towns. More like 11% than 20% of properties.

    That is assuming of course that it is 5bn and that it is a contiguous FTTP roll-outs. I suspect that the politicians will include all funding in the parliament including BDUK, WG, R100, vouchers, LFFN so the actual monies available may be less. It will obviously require less subsidy the more built up the area until it gets to purely commercial but realistically it does require 3bn or so more and earlier the better.

    The commercial investment promises from the providers are there and most of us will get fixed “Giga capable” one way or other over the next 7 years but there is still a significant shortfall.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:

      The maths changes from Urban -> Rural

      Urban uptake = 25-30% – commercial mix
      Rural uptake = 80% – single provider

      So the budget per premises is roughly 3x for the same ROI.

      It is only the gap between the investable and actual cost that needs plugging with public money.

      So using your number of £1,400 and OR’s published urban £300 per premises the gap funding is about £500 per premises.

      And yes it is a very
      rough and ready calculation but it gives a general idea….

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Small pushback – remember it’s incremental revenue that makes the business case. In urban areas where VM is available a property won back to Openreach via FTTP build or retained from an alternative network is worth far more than a rural property paying a relatively minimal increment for FTTP instead of copper.

      Where’s there’s no infrastructure competition Openreach are assured a certain amount of revenue barring people abandoning landline entirely.

    3. Avatar CarlT says:

      Pushback on myself. ‘Landline’ in the above should be ‘fixed line’.

      Either way it’s pretty significant. A VM customer attracted to 330/50 Openreach FTTP is worth £25 a month, give or take. An end user on FTTC attracted to 330/50 Openreach FTTP is worth far less due to what their CP is already paying Openreach.

    4. Avatar A_Builder says:

      @CarlT

      Accounting wise I don’t agree.

      Retention of revenue/revenue derived from ADSL/FTTC is unrelated to the ROI of FTTP. Which is purely returns in the asset life.

      The ADSL is EoL the FTTC is now fully amortised -except for very new DSLAMs.

      The risk here with rural is the people abandon ADSL for 4G so it is a revenue stream lost to all fixed infrastructure providers.

    5. Avatar Andrew Ferguson says:

      Not sure why the £5 billion might not be enough for FTTP to 20% of UK premises is news, since the simple maths of it being around £800/property if there are 6 million needing an uplift has been known since it was announced.

      A lot hinges on how good the BDUK contracts are in closing the superfast gap using FTTP, which might leave those needing uplift to Gigabit actually being those closer to the cabinets. Along with what people like B4rn, Gigaclear, Truespeed do commercially.

    6. Avatar AnotherTim says:

      “Openreach are assured a certain amount of revenue barring people abandoning landline entirely.”
      That’s happened around me – most neighbours have dropped fixed-line ADSL and moved to 4G, and about half have dropped the land-line altogether. I can’t help thinking that it reduces the chance of BT/OR doing anything in our area as they have already lost the customer base (which was uneconomic for any investment anyway).

  7. Avatar Sandra says:

    I just wish they would at least g.fast us. Every cab around us has it – so cabs 200M each direction but not ours which is end of the road. Not viable apparently. With all the shops, 2 libraries petrol stations and a cop shop on it. I would have thought it might have been viable at some point.

  8. Avatar Neil A says:

    I live in a rural location, our Cabinet serves 500 premises and just 66 are on the list to get FTTP.
    This is divide and conquer from BT, just window dressing so that they can claim the village is connected.

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