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UPD Wales UK Begins Formal Procurement Process for Superfast Broadband Services

Posted: 28th Feb, 2011 By: MarkJ
uk fibre optic broadband workwales uk broadband mapThe Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) is finally making some real headway on its Digital Wales plan, which aims to bring superfast 30Mbps broadband (minimum speed) to all of the country's businesses by the middle of 2016 and households by 2020.

Today the "official procurement notice" to help achieve this goal has been advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). The WAG claims to be looking for a "best value contract" (i.e. cheapest solution), which will also stimulate take up and boost coverage.

The move follows last month's open plea for suppliers and ISPs from across Europe and the UK to attend an event where they would learn of WAG's plan and bid for contracts (original news). Cash for the effort will no doubt come from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office's £530m budget until 2015 (rising to £830m by 2017).

WAG's Deputy First Minister, Ieuan Wyn Jones, said:

"To succeed in the modern economy Wales needs a first class, globally competitive next generation broadband network. That is why we have set a target of getting next-generation broadband in all Welsh homes and business.

Our new economic policy - ‘Economic Renewal: a new direction’ – sets out how we will help support businesses and create the right kind of infrastructure to grow our economy. Next generation broadband is a key part of this vision and the formal procurement process is now underway.

The Welsh Assembly Government also wants to make Wales a leader in digital technology, as set out in the Digital Wales strategy."

By contrast the UK's national plan (Britain's Superfast Broadband Future) pledges to help most rural areas get "super-fast" access to the internet by 2015. However, officially, it has only committed (Universal Service Commitment) to deliver a minimum download speed of 2Mbps to everybody by 2015. Such a weak goal can already be met by costly and restrictive Satellite solutions.

Meanwhile Europe's Digital Agenda aims to bring basic broadband to all Europeans by 2013 and to ensure that, by 2020, all Europeans have access to much higher internet speeds of above 30Mbps, with 50% or more subscribing to internet access above 100Mbps. If the UK really wants to have the "best broadband in Europe by 2015" then we'll need to move a lot faster.

UPDATE 1st March 2011

Thanks to one of our readers, Alex, for finding the actual tender - HERE.
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