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Q4 2020 Progress Update on Wales BT FTTP Broadband Rollout

Monday, March 1st, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 1,752
wales uk map broadband dragon

The Welsh Government has issued a Q4 2020 progress update on their £52.5m Phase 2 Superfast Cymru contract with BT (Openreach), which is deploying a 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP network to cover 39,000 extra premises in rural Wales. The data to December 2020 shows 15,649 premises have now been completed.

The second contract consists of two stages, the original £22.5m deal (reflecting a target of 26,000 premises by March 2021) and a much more recent £30m extension (13,000 premises by June 2022). The reason why the extension is more expensive is because the cost of deployment rises disproportionately as you enter those increasingly remote and sparse communities.

NOTE: The contract is deploying FTTP to tackle some of those areas in the final 4-5% of Wales that still cannot access a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) connection.

According to the latest update from the WG’s Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters, Openreach has so far built their full fibre network to a total of 15,649 premises (up from 14,698 in Sept 2020 and 9,895 in June 2020) under the contract – of these 3,470 are in the Lot 1 area, 6,919 in Lot 2 and 6,919 in Lot 3 – see below for more detail.

All of these completed premises are subject to further assurance by WG and, so far, 14,365 have been checked through this ongoing process. The rollout pace seems to have slowed a bit in the last quarter, which may be partly down to the COVID-19 crisis.

However, a meeting of the Welsh Parliament last week (here) noted that the March 2021 expectation now seems to be 20,000 instead of 26,000 premises. Some of this is due to FTTC build being changed to FTTP, while a few reductions also come from de-scoping (possibly due to the impact of new commercial projects) and re-phasing work to make the rollout more efficient with the £30m contract extension.

Admittedly more than 60,000 are still expected to remain unserved once the current contract ends. Some of that will probably be tackled by the WG’s voucher schemes and community fund, but others may have to wait for the UK Government’s £5bn investment in gigabit-capable broadband to have an impact (it’ll be late 2021 or early 2022 before we see contracts for that being awarded, assuming no delays).

Breakdown by local authority (Q4 2020)

wales_fttp_rollout_Q4_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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7 Responses
  1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    Perhaps BDUK should provide additional funding (from the £1.4Bn) to uplift proposed premises to FTTP as they have done in Scotland.

    1. Avatar NGA for all says:

      Outside the EU state aid process, perhaps all the existing contracts could be subject to change request to add the ~500k outstanding premises not under contract. Universal PSTN was completed using self-buried cable. It would be good to understand the intent for that.

      The actual need to overbuild FTTC using subsidy has not been discussed. The matter is avoided in the Cumbrian consultation as is the re-use of the 3 forms of outstanding clawback.

    2. Avatar Fastman says:

      these premises are all going to be fTTP

      The contract is deploying FTTP to tackle some of those areas in the final 4-5% of Wales that still cannot access a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) connection.

    3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      @Fastman. My understanding was that the number of premises covered was being reduced to ensure FTTP. My view was that the original premises scope could still proceed now rather than await future schemes. Piecemeal investment is never as efficient as a wider design.

  2. Avatar davethegooner says:

    It’s a bit chaotic imho- we’ve had approaches under USO, we’re not eligible as Openreach are apparently doing it within 12 months (heard this before as nauseum). We applied for the UK voucher trial, one provider said we needed more people, one has said they can connect us- still waiting to hear. I asked the council broadband team (Pembrokeshire) and they want us to register for their scheme too! Are they all talking to each other or not?! We have 2Mbps max. I don’t mind if it takes 2 months or 2 years just as long as I know, Ill know whether starlink is worth it or not then. No one can or will tell me though 🙁

    1. Avatar davethegooner says:

      Even more frustrating an openreach fibre optic cable actually goes across the front of my house! The infrastructure is in the village they just won’t connect it up! Bits of it have sat there for nearly 3 years!

  3. Avatar mike kirwin says:

    Openreach have chalked up a nine year track record of promising to upgrade our rural connection outside Rhydymain in Gwynedd. And you’ve got to hand it to them for consistency as they’ve failed to deliver on every single one of their promises.

    They even trenched new ducting for a new fibre and have an inspection chamber within 30m of where our connection is needed – approx four years ago. But shortly afterwards said that they weren’t going to connect us anymore and didn’t have any plans to connect us in the foreseeable future.

    Their community fibre partnership wasn’t any better. They’ve taken well over a full year to provide an exorbitant connection quote, send out a planner to site survey and find out why the costs were so high before increasing their quote further – from £46k to £47k. And now that this process is still unresolved, we’ve missed the opportunity to put any reasonable quote of theirs through the gigabit voucher scheme.

    Maybe year ten will be different, but I have my doubts.

    My overriding experience from this last decade is that they couldn’t care less about rural communities as there’s little to no money to be made from small clusters of isolated properties.

    What would work, is a subsidy on what’s looking like our only viable option to upgrade, which is Starlink’s £90 p/month service. The £47 p/month Tooway service that I’ve been using for the last few years is too hit and miss and a bit of an embarrassment when it frequently buffers on work related video calls.

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