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327,174 Premises in Wales Need Help to Get Gigabit Broadband

Saturday, Apr 9th, 2022 (7:30 am) - Score 1,888
wales uk map broadband dragon

The Building Digital UK team has published a new Public Review (PR) consultation for Wales, which reveals that some 327,174 premises might need state aid help under the Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit broadband rollout scheme in order to access 1Gbps speeds (rising to 984,806 if including ‘Under Review‘ premises).

The project, which is targeted at upgrading areas in the final 20% of the UK (5-6 million premises) where commercial investment models tend to fail, seeks to ensure that a minimum of 85%+ of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable broadband ISP connection by the end of 2025, before possibly reaching “nationwide” coverage (realistically c.99%) by the end of 2030 (here and here).

NOTE: Commercial builds alone – mostly in urban areas – have already pushed gigabit coverage to c.65% of UK premises, and they’ll reach 80%+ by the end of 2025 without public investment.

However, the first step – before procurements can begin and contracts be awarded to suppliers – is to identify precisely which areas are not expected to benefit from gigabit speeds under existing commercial builds, which covers related plans for the next 3 years. This is known as an Open Market Review (OMR). Only once you have the answer to that, can you identify where public funding will be needed to help address market failure.

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In Wales the current coverage for gigabit-capable broadband is much lower at just 46.40% for the end of 2021 (vs 65.27% across the UK), although this figure will continue to grow thanks to major ongoing network expansions of Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology by Openreach (here), Ogi (here), Netomnia (here) and Virgin Media etc.

Last year, the UK Government provisionally estimated that “up to” 234,000 hard-to-reach rural homes and businesses in Wales may need state aid under the new scheme in order to extend the coverage of related connectivity (here). Since then, the Welsh Government (WG) has completed the required OMR and found that planned commercial coverage would reach approximately 681,950 premises within the next 3 years.

NOTE: The commercial rollout is likely to cover places such as Aberdare, Abergavenny, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Barry, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Cwmbran, Llandudno, Llanelli, Newport, Pontypridd, Port Talbot, Prestatyn, Pwllheli, Rhyl, Swansea, Welshpool and Wrexham.

The OMR also identified that this would leave the remaining 327,174 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband and mark a further 657,632 premises as ‘Under Review‘. The latter reflects premises where suppliers have reported planned commercial broadband coverage, but where those plans have been judged through the OMR as potentially being at risk of not being completed.

The BDUK agency has now launched the final PR phase before procurement can begin, which aims to validate the outcome of the earlier OMR. In addition, any suppliers (network builders) that failed or were not yet ready with their plans to respond to the earlier OMR phase can still respond via the final PR phase in order to be included. This is important because the current market is rapidly evolving, with new networks and deployment plans seeming to crop up quite frequently.

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The new PR for Wales will be open for industry / supplier responses until 6th May 2022. Hopefully, once this has completed, we’ll get a better idea of how much funding will be directed from Project Gigabit to help Wales close what appears to be quite big coverage gap. Not to mention answering the question of when the related contracts might finally be awarded (we fear it could take until 2025 just to reach that stage).

Wales Public Review for Project Gigabit
https://gov.wales/broadband-public-review-2022

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
14 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Mike says:

    So the English will be subsidising them once again…

    1. Avatar photo David says:

      We do pay NI & tax too you know.

    2. Avatar photo FibreWay says:

      Yes, we will. Side effect of a single city getting most of the investment while investment in the regions is treated as charity of some sort.

    3. Avatar photo Aled says:

      Well yes one bridge was operated 35% by the French for a while. But both bridges have been owned and operated by the national governments since at least 2018.

      Not sure otherwise what your point is…

  2. Avatar photo Ollie says:

    We need the same help in scotland, rural areas neglected as usual with less the 10Mbps down 0.5Mbps up … shocking speeds to deal with for business.

  3. Avatar photo finaldest says:

    Openreach along with Welsh government begging cap in hand yet again. Could not arrange a boozy in a brewery.The state of the country since devolution.

    Unreliable mobile coverage.(much better in the 90s)
    Very poor fast broadband coverage.
    M4 Motorway in dire condition and totally out of date.
    Roads falling apart and rip off fuel prices.
    No public transport.
    Water pipes constantly bursting.
    Ugly wind farms plastered everywhere and constant power cuts.

    Time to get rid of this useless devolution and nationalise all public utility’s before its to late.

    1. Avatar photo Martin says:

      How many of those things you moan about are the responsibility of the Wales Government?

      Water, mobile & telecoms all privatised by Longshank’s chums in Westminster.

      Fuel Price – set by the free market and Tory Westminster Taxes.

      Last year I visited Wales, there were trains.

    2. Avatar photo Bob says:

      @finaldest
      The hypocrisy in your post says every that is wrong with common misconceptions amongst the Welsh general public.

      If you honestly think people over the bridge have more of a vested interest in Welsh affairs than Welsh Government, see Mike’s Post above. He, so eloquently , provides you a typical viewpoint of an English man’s thoughts around Welsh affairs.

      If you honestly think our best interest is to relinquish what little control we have over our own affairs back to those in the ivory towers in London then your as deluded as you are ill informed.

    3. Avatar photo Aled says:

      I am slightly concerned that several ISPs are gaming “the system”. Specifically, building in the biggest areas and leaving the rural areas, encouraging the Welsh government to subsidize what could otherwise be a commercial endeavour.

      I’m not 100% clear whether I endorse private businesses or nationalization. Both have their pros and cons, and frankly if you can’t see that, you’re not qualified to decide one way or the other. The private sector has increased Welsh internet speeds by literally more than 1000000x since it went private, but frankly at least half of that was technical advancement.

  4. Avatar photo Juz says:

    Jc would have sorted it. But no tory Britain continues. Re nationalisation needs to happen.

  5. Avatar photo James May says:

    I think we should just end the entire union then England can be free from the leech’s attached to its north and west

    1. Avatar photo Yokel says:

      and Cornwall?

  6. Avatar photo Paul says:

    How about England, Scotland, Wales and NI come together to solve the problem rather siting, moaning and spending money left and right for mediocre speed? It would be much easier that way.

    1. Avatar photo Martin says:

      There is a huge Openreach, City Fibre and other programs going forward. Unfortunately it is resource limited as well as being a numbers game so Cities and Town are being rolled out first and those in rural areas are feeling missed out.

      As for those who think the old nationalised ways would sort things out, I remember them well. Mrs Thatcher had her faults, but she had the sense to move telecoms forward, or I suspect we would all have old Strowager exchanges and be debating when we would move beyond 300/300 or 1200/75 bps, Prestel and all that!

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