The Superfast Cymru project has declared that the half way point has been met, though as our own research shows those in the more rural areas of Wales will distinctly disagree with this milestone. Or more interest has been an assertion made by the Welsh Cabinet in terms of the speeds people will receive when the project has completed.
"Superfast Cymru will mean that the majority of homes and businesses will be able to access broadband download speeds in excess of 30Mbps by 2016, with at least 40% of all the premises in the intervention area also benefitting from access to services in excess of 100Mbps. This is in line with the EU’s ambitions for widespread superfast broadband by 2020. To support this ambition, the EU is contributing £90 million via the ERDF programme to assist funding the delivery and roll-out of Superfast Cymru across Wales."Extract from written statement by Welsh Cabinet
The figure of 100 Mbps and 40% coverage may make some people excited as generally these sorts of speeds are not achievable with FTTC and our analysis of the cable coverage (28%) in Wales shows coverage is well below that figure, so even with native FTTP deployed as part of Superfast Cymru a 40% target looks very unlikely.
So how will this 40% figure be met, well it won't, the key to understanding what it means is buried in a redacted copy of the Superfast Cymru contract and the keyword is CAPABLE. So what the 40% figure really means is that Fibre on Demand (FTTPoD) will be available from cabinets covering at least 40% of the premises in the intervention area, and with a three year contract and a wholesale cost of £99/month and an install fee of £1500 and upwards this is not a product that home owners will be rushing to buy, for businesses it does provide a useful product between the basic GEA-FTTC services and a full leased line from BT or one of the other leased line providers.
We looked at the coverage of superfast services in Wales 3 weeks ago and the latest chart in this news item shows the pace of change, with overall superfast coverage rising from 69.3% to 72% now. The amount of native FTTP (available at wholesale pricing the same as FTTC and at speeds of 40, 80 and up to 330) has not jumped significantly at 0.1% overall still, even though a few more locations now have access. More have access to a fibre based solution, but they may receive speeds below 30 Mbps and for some very long lines even below existing ADSL/ADSL2+ speeds, coverage of what is termed fibre based stands at 75.9%.