Tag Archives: Superfast Cymru

BT’s boost to the economy in Wales

In May 2015 the UK Government confirmed that BT would have to hand back £129m of tax payers money invested in Superfast Broadband due to the amount of customers taking up of the service

In May 2015 BT commissioned London based Regeneris Consulting to produce an updated assessment of BT’s contribution to the UK economy.

Today (November 4th 2015) BT announced the findings of the Regeneris report, which makes healthy claims around job creation and regional suppliers. But what about the progress of the Superfast Broadband roll-out in Wales?

The last independent last (published in May 2015) by Welsh Audit Office, reported that:

  • 47% of targeted intervention areas could now access next generation broadband, but Wales still had the lowest levels of next generation broadband access of all the UK countries.
  • The take-up of next generation broadband at these premises was 13 per cent. However, many of the more difficult-to-connect premises remain.

With more public money being spent on Superfast Cymru Extension programmes, it’s yet to be seen how many people can actually access Superfast Broadband and how many are enjoying the service.

300,000 Homes and Business benefit from Superfast Cymru

Four out of five UK properties can now access superfast speeds, according to the UK Government’s announcement today.

On the face of it the UK Governments BDUK scheme has certainly delivered the goods in terms of speeding up the process of getting fibre broadband to the UK fairly quickly, however the difference between having access to, and actually experiencing superfast broadband remains a contentious issue.

The Welsh Government ‘aims to make fibre available to 96 per cent of premises in Wales by Spring 2016’.  Some commentators suggest that this figure is likely to missed. Think Broadband estimate that 10.4% of properties (that is about 170,000) in Wales will not get Superfast Broadband (24Mbs).

That said  issue that needs to be highlighted and understood is that access to fibre doesn’t necessarily mean that end users will be able to enjoy the benefits of faster Broadband.

Better Broadband for Llangwm and Llansoy

Superfast Cymru is pressing ahead with upgrading the BT network so that 96% of Welsh premises can have access to faster broadband by June 2016.

When the project is complete in 2 years time, there will still be many homes and businesses in rural communities who will not see any improvement in their Broadband.

Tired of suffering with poor service the community of Llangwm and Llansoy have decided to take action.  As a result faster Broadband services will on their way to Llangwm and Llansoy later this year.

It’s our privilege to play a part in delivering this initiative. To register your interest or for more information visit the Llangwm Broadband website here.

WG Public Consultation – ‘Superfast Cymru Infil’

The Welsh Government (WG) is now acknowledging  the need for further intervention on the broadband front.

WG is conducting a Public Consultation before going to market with a new procurement to deliver good broadband to areas that will miss out on Superfast Cymru.

If want to voice your opinion as part of the Public Consultation and you are a; local stakeholder, business, the public sector, voluntary group, local community or someone who  lives and works in Wales, you can complete the WG survey here.

Further details about the Public Consultation can be found on the WG website here.

Maps of the proposed ‘Superfast Cymru infil‘ can be seen here.

Superfast Cymru Exchanges by March 2015

More than 100,000 premises have now had their BT Exchanges upgraded under ‘Superfast Cymru’.  The target is 690,000 premises by the end of 2015.

Whilst there are anomalies on the lists of exchanges already completed, BT have now released a new list of exchanges scheduled to be enabled by the end of March 2015:

•Caerphilly: Cross Keys, Machen, Nelson, Rhymney, Risca, Senghenydd, Ynysddu

•Cardiff: Radyr •Carmarthenshire: Amman Valley, Carmarthen, Hebron, Llanbydder, Maesycrugiau, Pencader, Pumpsaint, Upper Cwmtwrch, Velindre

•Conwy: Cerrigydrudion, Llanfairfechan •Ceredigion: Aberaeron, Aeron, Aberporth, Borth, Bow Street, Bronant, Capel Bangor, Cardigan, Crosswood, Cwrtnewydd, Lampeter, Llanarth, Llandyssul, Llangybi, Llanilar, Llanon, Llechryd, Nebo, Newcastle Emlyn, New Quay, Ponterwyd, Ponthrydygroes, Pontrhydfendigaid, Pontshaen, Talybont, Tregaron

•Denbighshire: Bodfari, Bryneglwys, Cyffylliog, Denbigh, Dyserth, Glyndwr, Llanarmon-yn-Ial, Llandegla, Llandrillo, Llandyrnog, Llangollen, Llanynys, Maerdy, Rhuddlan, Ruthin, St Asaph, Trefnant •Flintshire: Caerwys, Halkyn, Kinnerton, Llanferres,

•Gwynedd: Bontddu, Ganllwyd, Tudweiliog •Neath Port Talbot: Crynant, Cymmer, Glantawe, Glynneath, Pontardawe, Resolven, Seven Sisters, Skewen

•Monmouthshire: Gilwern, , Magor, Nantyderry, Tredunnock Usk

•Pembrokeshire: Boncath, Crosswell, Crymych, Dinas Cross, Llwyndrain, Moylegrove, Newport,

•Powys: Abercrave, Abermule, Berriew, Brecon, Builth Wells, Bwlch, Caersws, Carno, Castle Caereinion, Church Stoke, Crickhowell, Erwood, Forden, Guilsfield, Hay-on-Wye, Hundred House, Gladestry, Kerry, Kington, Knighton, Llanbrynmair, Llanfair Caereinion, Llandrindod Wells, Llangamarch Wells, Llangurig, Llanfrynach, Llanfyllin, Llangorse, Llanidloes, Llanymynech, Newtown, Llanrhaeadr, Llansantffraid, Llanwrtyd Wells, Merthyr Cynog, Montgomery, Newbridge-on-Wye, Penybont, New Radnor, Pennant, Presteigne, Rhayader, Sennybridge, Talgarth, Talybont-on-Usk, Trefeglwys, Tregynon, Trewern, Welshpool

•Swansea: Llangennith

•Torfaen: Blaenavon, Talywain •Wrexham: Bangor-on-Dee, Chirk, Dutton Diffeth, Glyn Ceiriog, Hanmer, Overton-on-Dee, Redbrook Maelor, Rossett, Rhosllanerchrugog, Ruabon

Innovative solutions after Superfast Cymru

The Government is now actively thinking beyond the completion of the current ‘Superfast’ Broadband rollout programme, scheduled to be March 2015 in Wales.

Next week UK Government, Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, will be chairing a round table event in Westminster with key stakeholders to consider how best to get Superfast Broadband to the most difficult to reach areas.

The great and good will discuss the development of “innovative solutions” to solve the problem whilst needing to satisfy DCMS requirement for  “enhanced mobile services, new fixed technologies and alternative approaches to structuring financial support”.

Whilst BT will naturally be promoting the benefits of their forthcoming Gfast technology and recently acquired mobile spectrum, it’s yet to be seen to what extent the roll of Wi-Fi could play.  Some argue that Wi-Fi is the most cost effective and potentially most flexible solution for those at the end of the Broadband line, as can be seen here.

Reference: UK Gov, National Infrastructure Plan 2013

Wales and the EU (The Broadband Picture)

The EU is making steady progress towards its Digital Agenda target; that everyone should have 30Mbps Broadband by 2020.

Wales has roughly aligned its Superfast Cymru programme across the EU Digital Agenda which aims to provide; “basic” (0.5-4Mbps) and “competitively-priced” broadband internet access to all Europeans by 2013 and for everybody within the EU to have access to superfast broadband speeds of 30Mbps+ by 2020 (with 50% or more households subscribing to 100Mbps+).

The map above (which is based on 2012 data) is an interesting one for Wales, since vast sways of rural Wales score a 0%.  Whilst ‘Superfast Cymru’ which uses BT’s Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) is focused on the main population centres of the South and North Wales and potentially overbuilding existing State Aided projects, the beautiful counties of Pembrokeshire, Powys and Ceredigion which are home thousands businesses and dominated by agriculture and tourism, are set to lag the rest of the country.

New technologies set to extend the reach of FTTC bode well for Wales in the long term. That said there is a real challenge in the short term to medium term (between now and 2020), for those residents and businesses in Rural Wales to ensure they not isolated from the BT Network and also enjoy a usable; fast, reliable competitively priced Broadband.

*Note: To enlarge the graphic Click on the map

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.