The Welsh Affairs Committee have called for a new enquiry into broadband in Wales to evaluate whether or not the country is falling behind the rest of the UK in broadband access. The government have made commitments to spend £530m on broadband by 2015, rising to £830 by 2017, which has often been mentioned in our news, through a delivery body known as Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). So far, BDUK have only launched pilot programmes but are open to bidding for £50m of funds from councils which will be awarded in April.
The Welsh Affairs Committee will look at various aspects of broadband services in the country, such as coverage, next-generation access, and not-spots. They are accepting written submissions on these to be received by the 3rd of May. Full details on how these can be submitted can be found here.
- The current provision of broadband services in Wales;
- The UK Government’s broadband strategy, with particular regard to its potential impact on Wales;
- The case for further Next Generation Access (‘super-fast’ broadband) pilot projects based in Wales;
- The extent to which the strategy of the UK Government will complement the Welsh Assembly Government’s priorities for the future of broadband in Wales;
- Progress made towards promoting digital inclusion in Wales, including evidence of the take-up of broadband support schemes on offer;
- Progress made towards improving the provision of broadband infrastructure throughout Wales and eradicating broadband ‘notspots’; and
- Progress made towards improving mobile broadband coverage in Wales.
Of course, whilst the country could be left behind in some areas, it needs to ensure there is actually demand for what is being deployed. BT last week pointed out the low take up of next-generation broadband services in Cardiff. Whilst there may be various reason for this, it does remind that anything built will need to have a critical mass of adoption to ensure that it can actually go some way to paying for itself.