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Is Wales starting down the road of rationing its broadband spending?
Friday 09 November 2012 08:28:54 by Andrew Ferguson

While Wales has allocated around £425m towards improving broadband, this is just a fraction of the £15.4 billion budget that is the Welsh Budget for Growth. One aspect of the growth plan is the establishment of Local Growth Zones, with the Powys Local Growth Zone (LGZ) being the trail blazer. The LGZ's while not the same as Enterprise Zones are not that far removed, the emphasis being more towards local small businesses than attracting large employers to an area which has been the old Enterprise Zone mantra.

Map of Powys Local Growth Zones
Click image for larger version

As part of the Powys Local Growth Zone, broadband that is ubiquitous and fast is seen as key, as well as WiFi coverage for towns and better mobile coverage at 3G and 4G standards.

"The group notes that the provision of next generation broadband across the whole of Wales by the end of 2015 is already a priority for the Welsh Government. However, the Group recommends that Welsh Government should ensure that LGZs receive comprehensive broadband coverage as a priority as part of the first phase of roll out of its Next Generation Broadband project. This will enable Powys businesses to compete on a more level playing field, accessing relevant services, new markets, networking opportunities, business support, skills and training, and other knowledge.

Further, the Group recommends that provision of broadband should also be linked to provision of WiFi across all of the LGZ towns. Whilst this is an issue to be tackled at a more local level, the Group believe that it is important that the Welsh Government supports such a move."

Extract from Powys Local Growth Zones Task and Finish Group Report

In terms of the roll-out of better broadband be that superfast broadband via FTTC, FTTP or some other form of service that is better than the nothing some areas have and that at least meets the UK wide 2 Mbps USC target, there is a sense that you have to start somewhere, and targetting the growth zones seems sensible. A 30 minute statement on the report by Business and Enterprise Minister Edwina Hart can be viewed online on the BBC news website.

The danger behind targetted funding is that if the work to improve broadband proves more costly than the simple projections already done, then the project might roll out of steam. Taking a cyncical approach, one might conclude that this is why the funding is being targetted, so that the areas which may show a reasonable outcode will get served before the funds run out, with further requests in the future to actually improve services for those in the most rural areas.

Powys can lay claim to being the most sparsely populated county in England and Wales are 25 persons per square kilometre (Wales as a whole is 145 per sq km) and a total population of 131,313. The proportion living in villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings is 59% compared to the UK average of 13%.

At this stage it appears that if you live within the LGZ corridor in Powys, better broadband looks pretty certain in the next few years, outside that area businesses and residents may still have a fight on their hands to ensure they are not bypassed, or simply left until the funding is down to its last few ha'pennies and a voucher for a satellite dish is all that is available, allowing the 2 Mbps USC box to be ticked.

Comments

Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
Powys not the most sensible place to start. The population of Powis is very low.

Given that BT has left most of Wales out of the commercial roilout it woyuld seem more sensible to focus on the larger conerbation such as the cities

Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
They already ration it. They ignore North Wales from what I can tell.

Mind you that seems to be largely the case on every subject from talking to my Dad. Even the traditional transport seems mad - it's quicker and less hassle to get to London than Cardiff from North Wales.
Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 4 years ago
Spent a lot of time putting PLGZ NGA broadband recommendation for Y Drenewydd, So good news, I hope!
Posted by herdwick over 4 years ago
speel chucker broken ? "cyncical" "outcode"
Posted by warweezil over 4 years ago
Cities? Well Cardiff and much of the M4 corridor already has access to fibre etc. It is time the goodies were shared out a little more fairly. Huge areas of Wales are still dragging along on ADSL1 - complete with a pricing premium - for old tech services, increasing run on second hand kit which usually have lower data caps than the newer (and often cheaper) services.
Posted by Enrico21 over 4 years ago
Warweezil -this is now on the BBC News for Wales Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-21098608

The first phase 2013/14 includes Powys – said to be one of the most sparsely populated local authority areas in England & Wales.
Surprisingly, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion & Pembrokeshire are not included in the first roll-out phase so presumably must wait until 2014/15.
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