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Openreach Extend FTTP to 44K Premises in Wales Under Gov Contract UPDATE

Wednesday, Dec 6th, 2023 (1:49 pm) - Score 2,240
2023-Openreach-Engineers-around-Street-Manhole

Openreach has today revealed that their £57m state aid supported Phase 2 Superfast Cymru contracts with the Welsh Government (WG), which required them to extend their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network to 39,000 extra premises in rural Wales, ultimately delivered 44,000 and came in under budget.

The four-year project, which officially completed a few short months ago (here), has gone through a few changes since it was first announced – largely due to rising levels of commercial coverage. But it has remained focused on improving connectivity to some of those areas in the final c. 3% of Wales that still cannot access a “superfast” (30Mbps+) service.

NOTE: Openreach has a workforce of around 2,300 people in Wales.

Admittedly, the original plan was to complete the build by June 2022, but, as with so many complex fibre builds in remote rural areas, it ultimately ended up taking a fair bit longer than that to reach full completion. This was partly also due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, storms and other factors.

Nevertheless, it’s pleasing to see that the contract delivered more than was promised and came in under the original budget, even though they don’t provide any up-to-date financials to substantiate that statement.

Kim Mears, Openreach Wales Board Chair, said:

“Nobody is building full fibre broadband across Wales faster or wider than Openreach. Both in terms of our commercial investment and the work we’ve done in partnership with the Welsh Government.

Our ultrafast full fibre network is helping bridge the digital divide, open new markets to businesses, bring significant economic boost to local economies and help families live, work and play.”

Minister for the Economy, Vaughan Gething, said:

“While broadband isn’t devolved, we wanted to support communities where commercial companies had no plans to install full fibre broadband infrastructure and improve connectivity across all parts of Wales.

When we started this journey in 2019, under 7% of properties in Wales could access full fibre broadband. Now I’m delighted that thanks to a combination of public and commercially funded rollouts, more than half of all homes and businesses can live, work or study with gigabit capable speeds.”

Just to give this some extra context. Openreach recently reported that they’d so far invested £210m (up from £180m in January 2023 – this is mostly commercial work) to deploy their gigabit-capable FTTP broadband ISP network across over 700,000 premises in Wales. Roughly 200,000 of that figure was added in the last 12-months alone.

Going forward, tens of thousands of premises in Wales are still poorly served, but that should shrink further as a result of commercial builds (e.g. Openreach, Netomnia, nexfibre and Ogi are all busy). Meanwhile, most of those that are left will hopefully be tackled through the gigabit voucher scheme and community fund, while the rest might have to wait for the £5bn Project Gigabit programme (Welsh Plan) to spring into life.

Speaking of Project Gigabit. Areas across North West Wales, Mid Wales and South East Wales are being included in a cross regional procurement (aka – Type C) that recently launched (here). In addition, the team are planning to launch a regional procurement in North Wales, and they are currently finalising the most appropriate approach for South West Wales.

Type C procurements will appoint a single supplier to target premises (i.e. subsidise the design, build and operation of a new gigabit network) in areas where no or no appropriate market interest has been expressed before, or areas that have been de-scoped or terminated from a prior plan. Such procurements tend to favour the appointment of a single large supplier.

On top of that, the WG appear to be exploring a £70m project of their own (here), but the details on that remain extremely thin.

UPDATE 5:31pm

Thanks to one of our readers (Steve), we’ve been able to get a few more details.

Table 1: Breakdown of the premises connected between September 2019 and December 2023 in the agreed intervention area by Local Authority area

Local Authority Premises
Bridgend 1299
Caerphilly 2943
Cardiff 870
Carmarthenshire 3179
Ceredigion 2503
Conwy 1665
Denbighshire 1694
Flintshire 2144
Gwynedd 4016
Isle of Anglesey 1099
Merthyr Tydfil 468
Monmouthshire 1817
Neath Port Talbot 780
Newport 292
Pembrokeshire 3509
Powys 3444
Rhondda Cynon Taf 1642
Swansea 469
Torfaen 620
Vale of Glamorgan 1027
Wrexham 2531
TOTAL 38011

The table shows access to full fibre connectivity that has been provided to 38,011 premises that were included in the agreed intervention area. In addition to this, a further 6,042 premises have been addressed as a direct consequence of our public funded roll out. Therefore, in total, 44,053 premises now have access to full fibre connectivity, surpassing our targets for the project.

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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
6 Responses
  1. Avatar photo aw says:

    AND STILL NOT IN MY HALF OF THE STREET but it will be here by dec2026 ggrrrr

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      I know that feeling.

      They had that status, then “not yet available”, then the CBTs went up, and status goes to “By Dec 2026”

      It’s almost like one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing, and the brain hasn’t got a clue what either hand is doing.

    2. Avatar photo Alex says:

      The brain is delivering to 65k homes a week all over the UK. Given the scale and complexity of achieving that, I think it can be forgiven for not knowing exactly which week it’s reaching you.

    3. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Openreach are intending to keep building til 2030. At the minute I suspect they’re attacking the low hanging fruit so they can get as many premises passed as quickly as possible (I believe the initial target was 18 million by the end of 2025). Frustrating if you’re the one who’s waiting but unfortunately someone has to be the last customer to be connected in 2030.

  2. Avatar photo Stephen Evans says:

    At the moment I’m getting a guarantee of 2 Meg in Llanwenarth seems the places that really require it will be left out because its not worth the wile

    1. Avatar photo Cognizant says:

      Starlink is the answer in your case, I regularly get 300Mbps through it in Wales

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