Tag Archives: Access Broadband Cymru

Welsh Government Broadband Voucher Update

Affordable commercial property and good Internet are key reasons behind Newport being names Wales’ “top” city for starting a business in a recent study by Quality Formations.

Despite Newport being ranked 28th overall out of 69 cities nationwide the study reinforces business’ reliance on good Internet access, which the Welsh Government are trying encourage with the expansion of their two broadband voucher schemes.

The Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) and the Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher (UCV) have been designed to help businesses and homes in disadvantaged areas gain access to faster broadband. Both schemes have been modified as below:

  • ABC will now be available to all homes and businesses across Wales which “currently do not have a superfast connection” (30Mbps+)
  • ABC will now offer two levels of funding depending upon the Internet speed required. The first level will offer £400 for download speeds of 10Mbps+ and the second level will offer £800 for 30Mbps+. New connections through this scheme must deliver a step change in speed – with at least double your current download speeds (e.g. a current connection of 10Mbps must improve to at least 20Mbps).
  • UCV is being opened up to businesses across Wales to help them meet the initial capital costs involved in installing ultrafast broadband services.

The updated schemes are available immediately and are scheduled to run until March 2018.

Welsh Government Grant blocks Satellite Broadband

The Welsh Government (WG) are technology neutral when it comes to Broadband, however there is some confusion whether their Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) grant can be used to fund Satellite Broadband.

Broadband users who receive less than 2mpbs can apply for the ABC grant as long as the money is spent on a Broadband solution that is ‘capable of’ providing consistent download speeds of at least 24Mbps. See WG website here.

Whilst  WG want to be seen to be deploying  ‘Superfast Broadband’ of at least 24Mbps, Broadband providers operating via the KA Satellite  can only currently stretch their offering to 22Mbps.

We understand that some Satellite Broadband providers are willing to provide assurance that their service can deliver 24Mbps. However WG assert that they intend to put in place monitoring and control measures to check that providers are delivering customers with the service that they quote.

Customers can obviously purchase a Satellite Broadband solution without grant support. For the foreseeable future at least, the WG ABC will not be funding  such a solution (unless the provider is willing to put it writing that their service will deliver a stable service of at least 24Mbps).

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.

Access Broadband Cymru

Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) is the new Broadband Support Scheme designed to help people who will not benefit from the roll-out of ‘SuperFast-Cymru’.

ABC is like its predecessor the ‘Broadband Support Scheme’ (BBSS) in that  Welsh Government offers a grant up to £1000 (inc VAT) to customers who do not receive Broadband download speeds of 2Mpbs.  The scheme will replace the BBSS and will commence on 1st October 2013.

To find out if you’re exchange is scheduled to be upgraded under Superfast-Cymru click here (and don’t forget to scroll down and hover over the exchange area that you’re interested in).  For further FAQ’s relating to Access Broadband Cymru click here.

Whilst Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Ken Skates highlights that the the Welsh Government ‘want to ensure that all our communities are able to enjoy the benefits of improved connectivity’ it appears that further clarification may still be needed for those who are uncertain if they will benefit from ‘Superfast-Cymru’, even if their exchange is scheduled to be upgraded.  See discussion on ThinkBroadband.com.

As of 1st October we will have access to the exchange upgrade schedule for the whole of Wales.  If your exchange is not listed, then by all means apply for the ABC Grant.  If you’re exchange is scheduled to be upgraded you still might qualify for an ABC grant, so its worth checking on the line checker/post code checker on http://www.superfast-cymru.com/where-and-when before making assumptions.

If you want to chat about this in more detail, please feel free to drop us a line: info@disconnectedwales.com