Richard Brown of Wispa Ltd sent out an email on Wednesday alerting many people to an event that otherwise would have slipped under the radar and some significant issues with the criteria for the Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) funding designed to help those with speeds under 2 Mbps across Wales. The meeting itself is for stakeholders wanting to be involved in the ABC scheme.
To some extent one can understand a desire and a legal reason (EU State Aid) to avoid spending money twice on a specific property, but the ABC scheme has such a wide definition of where the project with BT is considered as covering that prospective providers looking to offer a product may see the scheme as a waste of time, or preload their prices to make the small number of potential orders worthwhile.
"The Welsh Government reserve the right to request a copy of your Council Tax for the installation premises.
The premises must not be in the published roll-out for Superfast Cymru.
You must demonstrate that the premises cannot achieve a broadband connection of 2Mbps or above.Some criteria for residential claims under ABC scheme
The FAQ's for the ABC website reveal that a property is considered part of the Superfast Cymru rollout if the exchange is already accepting orders or considered a future exchange, which means that after a recent update to the Openreach Where and When website many more areas of Wales are excluded, there is still a good many in the Under Evaluation list, but who knows how many will move up the stage. The clever will have noticed that the the FAQ misses out the all important Coming Soon stage, which is the stage when Openreach has actually started building or is about to start work in an exchange area.
In the commercial roll-out it has been very rare for all cabinets in an exchange area to be upgraded, perhaps Wales will be different, and with a target of 96% getting faster broadband (sometimes called high-speed fibre) this may be the case. An important observation the Welsh websites do not talk about 96% receiving superfast broadband but rather bringing faster broadband to 96% of homes, the 96% target should mean that Wales will be close to the 90% getting superfast speeds.
One problem with subsidies and grants can be abuse of schemes, and the ABC scheme is attempting to avoid some of that by seeking proof at various stages, but we are disappointed at one aspect and that is that it insists on a website for speed testing that would be unable to answer any questions that people have about their speed test and the Welsh Government is thus missing out on the ability to gather data about actual speeds at the postcode level via our maps. Also depending on which Ookla server is used some may be configured to show peak speeds, rather than the full set of figures and throughput graphs like our tester.
AMMANFORD, ANGLE, BURRY PORT, CROSS HANDS, DALE, DRYSLWYN, DINGESTOW, FERRYSIDE, FISHGUARD, GWYNFE, KIDWELLY, LAUGHARNE, Longtown Castle, CRUCORNEY, LLANDDAROG, LETTERSTON, LLANGRANOG, LAMPHEY, LLANBOIDY, LLANDEILO, LLANDOVERY, GOBION, LLANGADOG, LLANTILIO, LLANGENNECH, LLANSTEFFAN, LLANPUMSAINT, LLANDYBIE, LLYSWEN, MADOX, MAENCLOCHOG, MANORBIER, MARTLETWY, NARBERTH, NANTGAREDIG, PONTARDULAIS, PENDINE, PONTYBEREM, PUNCHESTON, PONTYATES, BRECHFA, BROADHAVEN, BANCYFELIN, RAGLAN, RHANDIRMWYN, RHYDLEWIS, RHOS, ST.CLEARS, ST.DAVIDS, SAUNDERSFOOT, ST.NICHOLAS, TENBY, TINTERN, TRELLECK, TALLEY, TREFFGARNE, TRIMSARAN, LLANTEG, LLAWHADEN, LITTLE MILL, WOLVESNEWTON, WHITLAND, SHIRENEWTON, CLUNDERWEN, CAMROSE, CAREW, CROSS ASH, CONWYL ELFED, CASTLE MARTIN, CLARBESTON, CYNGHORDY, CROESGOCHSome South Wales Exchanges still eligible under ABC scheme
Our expectation is that almost every Welsh telephone exchange will be needing to have upgrade work if the Welsh Government is serious about hitting the Westminster target of 90% receiving superfast broadband, and even their own lower speed vaguely defined target of 96% receiving high speed broadband will need a lot more exchanges placed into the Future Exchange lists.
Critics of the BDUK schemes have repeatedly complained about issues the small percentage of long cabinet to premises lines, and if the Welsh project is going to rely completely on exchange level mapping then it will truly be a farce.