The work to improve broadband speeds across Wales has been a long climb and there is still lots of work to do in many areas, but the latest target announced might backfire if the way it is communicated gives the wrong impression. The Welsh Government in conjunction with BT has announced 'that work is planned to start in every telephone exchange in Wales by the end of September 2015 bringing superfast internet speeds to even more villages and towns across the country'.
Update 10am The full press release is on wales.gov.uk and includes a list of the exchanges which will be in this final wave of exchanges.
The key message as those who have seen fibre based improvements arrive in their exchange is that this can mean just one cabinet is offering the new faster FTTC service, or it could mean all the cabinets are offering service, and all the other permutations, including none, some or all of the Exchange Only lines re-engineered to offer FTTC or FTTP.
While easy to see this release as a political reaction to the complaints about swathes of Wales being ignored, the timing is probably right if the project is to keep up with its deadline of completing in Spring 2016, i.e. we will in the next 11 months continue to see the roll-out accelerate and also the amount of FTTP involved in the Welsh project to increase too. When we looked at what the superfast coverage across Wales might look like earlier this year, we arrived at a figure of 80.2% at 30 Mbps or faster, but this ignored any Exchange Only and FTTP work so the contracted goal of 90% at superfast is still achievable.
"The Superfast Cymru programme is ambitious and challenging, bringing fast fibre broadband across Wales. We should not underestimate the sheer scale of it.
From Aberdaron in Gwynedd to Skenfrith in Monmouthshire communities will have the option of accessing fast fibre broadband. This is a tremendous achievement and excellent news for businesses and households.
By the time the Superfast Cymru programme is completed in Spring 2016 Wales will be one of the most highly connected countries in Europe with 96 per cent of premises able to access faster internet speeds."Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James
Of course no matter how many millions are spent if you are one of those in the 4% not likely to see a fibre based service improvement from the programme then you will the programme a waste of money, the same for those with long distances between the cabinet and their premises of 3km or more which we believe is only around 2.5% of lines in the UK.
The results from our speed test show the wide range of speeds across Wales, looking at two smaller areas Bangor was at the forefront of the roll-out and is now showing a median speed of 19.2 Mbps in the last quarter, compared to Llandudno and Colwyn Bay where the median is 9 Mbps but this should shortly improve as the first fibre based services go live.