Category Archives: Superfast Cymru

Welsh Government – On withholding information

The Welsh Government (WG) is open as to why it does not want to disclose information about it’s ‘Superfast Cymru’ programme.

After initially denying a request under the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ here, WG Head of ICT Infrastructure Simon Jones states: ‘I believe the public interest in withholding this information is greater than that in releasing it’.

If you’re interested in knowing where public money is being spent on Broadband, there are many points to consider. For your information three arguments put forward by WG against disclosure of information are:

  • BT’s Commercial Interests
  • Substantial Harm to BT
  • Not in the Public Interest

Are we underestimating the challenge of the status quo to delivering public utility projects? WG response to another ‘freedom of information request’ here.

Open Government contracting with Openreach (a BT Business) clearly produces winners and losers. WG state that ‘disclosing the terms & conditions would prejudice BT’s competitive position and create expectations that, if not met would harm BT’s reputation and share price’.

Perhaps WG are not so opposed to transparency and accountability, but rather have yet to grips with public participation and policy implementation and therefore simply retreat and raise the drawbridge amidst angry accusations of face saving.

ABC – Can you apply?

Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) is Welsh Government (WG) scheme designed to help those who suffer from poor Broadband.

The Government’s original Universal Service Commitment (USC) was to ensure that everyone could access Broadband speeds of 2Mbps by 2012, however Ofcom recently reported that 12% of Wales (circa 150,000 premises) failed to receive these speeds.

So if you’re in a post code area not scheduled to covered by the WG/BT ‘Superfast Cymru’ (super fast network) programme then you can apply for a ABC grant here. But be aware there are some grey areas.

Ofcom report that two thirds of the slow speeds recorded are apparently in areas where super fast networks exist, so you may not be able to apply for ABC since you should be covered under ‘Superfast Cymru’.  It is worth noting your options for alternative providers are limited since most Internet Service Providers use BT’s infrastructure.

Furthermore, if you are in an area not yet covered by ‘Superfast Cymru’ project (as outlined in percentage terms below) you still may not be able to apply for ABC until the Superfast Cymru project is complete in March 2016.

We appreciate the ‘commercial confidentiality’ around ‘Superfast Cymru’ and the change of heart by Rt Hon Maria Miller (DCMS) to make the Superfast postcode level data available.  We are also bemused at how some alternative providers to BT have cashed in a small fortune by means of  the WG Broadband Support Scheme onto to provide poor service to already disadvantaged customers, as seen here.

Nevertheless we still suggest that if  you suffer from Broadband speeds of less than 2Mpbs then apply for the ABC here.

If you’d like to discuss any of the issues raised above then please drop us a line or to see the Ofcom report in full click here.