Take-up has been the long forgotten task with many broadband services, all too often you see a fancy ribbon cutting ceremony and a poster stuck on a cabinet but nothing more, hence the responses in our recent poll. John Davies from who chairs the Welsh advisory committee for the communications watchdog Ofcom is calling on the Superfast Cymru project to spend more on promoting the roll-out.
"We are at an early stage in the programme and the marketing activity.
Current take up figures for cabinets that have been in place for over one year are around 19%. This is where we would expect take up to be at this stage."Mr Davies on take-up in Wales
The area that saw the first cabinets via the project was Bangor just over 12 months ago. This is important as we know many campaigners will take this 19% take-up within a year figure and use it illustrate that Openreach has rolled out its commercial service in the wrong areas. This is particularly the case when you look at the overall figures for the UK with 2.4 million FTTC users from a footprint of around 19 million premises. Bangor may not be urban for those who have only ever lived in Manchester and London but it is a long way from the rural idyll that people believe the projects are delivering to.
A good amount of the Superfast Cymru roll-out is in the North Wales area which interestingly saw a publically funded project FibreSpeed worth some £30m across the same area and if take-up of the FTTC services is as high as expected this seems to demonstrate that the £30m was wasted. eXwavia one of the wireless providers using the FibreSpeed backbone has also been highlighted recently with questions about the level of public money behind the firm.
The 19% take-up figure is good and if the Welsh contract has the standard 20% clawback clause in it, then a small push should see some money coming back to the project and this could perhaps be used to increase the 96% target for fibre based broadband and maybe increase the proportion of FTTP used in the roll-out particularly in those areas where FTTC speeds will be lower. We have seen some evidence of FTTP deployment in the Welsh project just a case of those areas now going live.