Wales has often languished at the bottom of the speed tables and while things are improving the scale of the task has been made clear by the latest roll-out updates from BT.
- 800,000 Welsh homes and businesses able to access fibre broadband
- Roll-out of fibre broadband driving employment across Wales
- Welsh Government and UK ministers welcome the achievement
"Over half of consumers and businesses in Wales now have access to world class broadband speeds with 55 per cent of all premises in Wales covered by BT’s high-speed fibre broadband network."Extract from BT Press Release
The task in Wales was always going to be harder since the starting point was so much lower, particularly as Virgin Media cable coverage was a lot lower and the Superfast Cymru project is a mixture of commercial and gap-funded roll-out. In fact the name of the project and various statements by politicians over the years may not be helping with the expectation management for the project, hence the level of sometimes outright anger at the spending, both from the BT project and other not-spot projects that seem to have had little impact.
The reality is that with a 96% target figure for premises with the option of ordering a fibre based broadband service the number getting superfast speeds will be in the order of 80 to 85% (our full analysis back in June 2014).
The easy target here is BT, but it is likely they are simply delivering to the metrics of the contract. The political pressure built up from years of campaigning meant that politicans had to be seen to be doing something and the BDUK process is the result. The fact that the coverage in the press of rural areas and people sitting on hills using a laptop means that the public get the wrong impression that the most remote locations will be those that benefit.
What is clear is that much more work will be needed after 2016 to bring Wales up to the standards of the best areas in Europe, but getting decent comparisons with other similar countries can prove difficult. We complain about the lack of coverage and roll-out plans in the UK but the pattern repeats for almost every country unless you believe the press releases.