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42,000 more premises to get Superfast Broadband in Wales
Tuesday 07 July 2015 17:13:48 by Andrew Ferguson

The Superfast Cymru project like all the other projects across the UK still has gaps left to fill, but the news today of another £19m from DCMS and in theory some from the EU with extra funding on top of this from BT to help deliver superfast broadband to another 42,000 premises has to be good news.

The extra funding means the project will now complete in June 2017, and this extension work it appears is aimed clearly at business parks and industrial estates across Wales, generally comprising new build premises or some premises that were earmarked as commercial roll-out three years ago but are now deemed economically unviable.

The extension project is shared between BT and Airband, with the fixed wireless provider winning a contract to supply superfast broadband to some 2,000 premises.

"This extension to the Superfast Cymru programme, which BT is helping fund, will not only enable us to reach some of the most remote parts of the country, but will also be enabling businesses in suburban areas, who want to, to access some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK.

Every day the internet is touching our lives in new and exciting ways, providing new opportunities to connect and communicate at home and in the workplace, which is why today marks another important development for Wales.

BT Director for Wales Ann Beynon

"We are delighted to have won the tender for the Superfast Cymru Infill Project.

Airband has an extensive network across Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Powys which delivers superfast broadband to rural communities across these regions.

We are now looking forward to rolling this out across Wales to improve broadband speeds and accessibility and provide better connectivity for businesses across the country.

Founding Partner at Airband

While the Welsh broadband project is often called a superfarce and we would love to have a good argument over what has been delivered it actually does look like the numbers quoted for delivery are correct. The press release talks of 480,000 premises able to access faster broadband because of the roll-out and superfast coverage of 79%, and we believe the roll-out has effectively doubled the availability of superfast in Wales and we estimate that 78% can receive a superfast service at 24 Mbps or faster. This drops to 76.7% at 30 Mbps and native FTTP coverage of around 0.1%, our usual breakdown by area follows:

thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast Broadband Coverage Across Wales - coverage as of 6th July 2015
In descending order of superfast (24 Mbps) coverage
Area % fibre based % superfast
24 Mbps or faster
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% cable % Openreach FTTP % Under 2 Mbps USC % Under 15 Mbps
Blaenau Gwent 98.6% 95.1% 94.1% 0% 0.1% 1.2% 2.3%
Cardiff 96.5% 93.4% 92.8% 74.4% 0% 0.7% 2.1%
Swansea 94.7% 90.9% 90.3% 68.9% 0.2% 0.8% 2.9%
Rhondda Cynon Taf 95.5% 90.4% 88.8% 7.7% 0% 1.6% 4.2%
Torfaen 92.6% 89.8% 88.6% 28.1% 0% 0.3% 1.8%
Newport 95.5% 89.3% 88.9% 65.7% 0.1% 2.1% 4.6%
Merthyr Tydfil 94.7% 89.3% 88% 0% 0.2% 1.3% 4.7%
Castell-nedd Port Talbot - Neath Port Talbot 91.9% 88.5% 87.5% 57.1% 0% 0.5% 4.8%
Caerffili - Caerphilly 92.9% 87.2% 85.4% 0% 0% 2.2% 4.9%
Bro Morgannwg - the Vale of Glamorgan 89.5% 83.8% 82.8% 49.2% 0% 1.7% 6.9%
Sir y Fflint - Flintshire 90.2% 83.7% 81.7% 0% 2.8% 1.5% 7.8%
Wrexham 87.8% 80.8% 79.1% 0% 0% 1% 7.9%
Sir Ddinbych - Denbighshire 80% 75.5% 74.6% 0% 0% 0.7% 11.5%
Sir Ynys Mon - Isle of Anglesey 78.1% 68.7% 66.3% 0% 0.4% 1.5% 18.6%
Gwynedd 79.4% 68.3% 65.8% 0% 1.9% 2.2% 16.3%
Conwy 68.5% 61.6% 60.1% 0% 0% 1.2% 10.7%
Sir Fynwy - Monmouthshire 67.3% 59.6% 58% 0% 0% 2.5% 17.8%
Sir Benfro - Pembrokeshire 62.5% 55.5% 53.9% 0.1% 0% 1.3% 22%
Sir Ceredigion - Ceredigion 51.1% 41.6% 40.3% 0% 0% 2.4% 34%
Powys 48.1% 38.2% 36.9% 0% 0% 2.7% 32.7%
Sir Gaerfyrddin - Carmarthenshire 41.9% 36.6% 35.2% 0% 0% 1.2% 23.9%

If want to get an idea of how the project is progressing compare the same areas back in February 2015, we know the progress is no comfort to those still waiting but since this is an infrastructure project it will take time to deliver.

The 42,000 extra premises should add another 3.5% of superfast coverage so the only question now is how far will the phase 1 project get, with its 78% to 79% current coverage there is clearly a good deal of work to do.

Update 7pm The original UK Government article has now been tweaked to clarify the position on Fibre on Demand and has changed from:
"This is a business-focussed Ultrafast broadband technology, which will be immediately available to the majority of premises in Wales, and only in Wales"
Through negotiations with BT “Fibre on Demand” will be available across the majority of Wales. This is a business-focussed Ultrafast broadband technology, which will be available by the end of summer 2015 to the majority of premises in Wales"
A date of the end of summer 2015 fits in with what we have previously understood to be the plans for Fibre on Demand, i.e. a FoD2 version that exploits some changes in how BT deploys fibre deeper into the network with fingers crossed slightly reduced costs.


Posted by chrisat about 1 year ago
I've been really disappointed with the Superfast Cymru project. The roll out in Conwy has been particularly poor. North Wales always seems to get a bad deal with infrastructure, and Superfast broadband has been no different. Only very recently have the Llandudno, Colwyn and Aberconwy exchanges been activated, but lots of Cabs are still waiting. My exchange, WNPEN covers a small village but a relatively densely populated area with ~2000 lines, and no challenging engineering obstacles; however the date has been pushed back three times now. 1/2
Posted by chrisat about 1 year ago
2/2 Provisionally we were told late 2014, then end of March 2015, later end of June 2015. On the 30th of June, they've pushed it back until the end of September. I'll be surprised if we are connected before Christmas this year.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
seems to be awaiting the fibre spine -- how do you know that there are no challenging engineering obstacles - have you inspected all the ducts / routes/ highways and undertaken al the utility lands searches for each piece of inftastructure deployed in the exchange
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
would expect some streetworks notifications as to the spine work
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Conwy has gone from nothing to 61.6% superfast in 7 months and while a not a uniform roll-out someone has to be first and last.

Given Powys and Carmarthenshire coverage levels are so low almost expect focus to shift further south.
Posted by mikeluff about 1 year ago
Well I can finally say, as I sit here on the outskirts of a village in Pembrokeshire that BT have been in the area and FTTP is on its way. New poles being installed as we speak, and coils of tubes taped to others. Although my house is a good 250m away from closet pole with the coil might be screwed anyway, even though I watched them pull the tubes right past my place!
Posted by Seaview1985 about 1 year ago
While Superfast Wales has done lots in Wales I tend to agree with @chrisat.
Large areas of North Wales have indeed only just been switched on with huge areas missing. Including lots of EO Lines. There are lots of new developments in North Wales especially on the Aberconwy exchange which are EO Lines also.
I'm also on this exchange and even though the exchange went live Mid December I'm still unable to consider it due to being on a dreaded EO Line.
A friend of mine is in Colwyn Bay and literally his next door neighbour can order due to being on a different Cabinet.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
nw developments are a challenge and that may be because the developer is not having a fibre conversation with the operator and only asking for copper -- so if you build 200 homes on a factory site and only ask for USC voice you can be pretty much guaranteed that your new homes will be on an EO cable as that probably how the factory was served -- that nothing to do with superfast wales -- that's the developer

Posted by chrisat about 1 year ago
@fastman, I can imagine, all I can do is observe and the street works in action, and from a casual observers’ view it doesn’t seem like any major snags have been hit. It’s just seems to me that it has been carried out at a very slow pace. I appreciate it’s a mammoth an unenviable task, I’m just disappointed it didn’t start here sooner. Along the coast, Conwy is relatively urbanised, but for political/economic reasons or otherwise, Anglesey and Gwynedd seem to have been prioritized!?
Posted by chrisat about 1 year ago
@Seaview, The Cab next to the WAG building in Llandudno Junction was only turned on last month- bet they weren’t waiting checking the superfast website though!?

@mikeluff, I wouldn’t get too excited, you’ve probably got a long wait ahead.
Posted by chrisat about 1 year ago
@andrew, exactly my point, why was it zero coverage 6 months ago? Powys is a very different county to Conwy, I would imagine much easier to achieve higher % coverage rates here. The main towns here should’ve had started getting FTTC coverage much earlier. The original ADSL roll out was the same here, we had to fight to get sign ups to hit our trigger- painfully slow.
Posted by chrisat about 1 year ago
We have the Fibrespeed Wales line directly outside our house, and this runs straight along north wales. That seems to have been a commercial failure, it’s a shame it couldn’t have been utilized in the Superfast project somehow.
Posted by Seaview1985 about 1 year ago
@fastman - that was just one example of some of the big gaps that have been left, I'm not in new build but still one on an EO Line. They have also left out big parts of Llandudno & Colwyn Bay which make no sense.
@chrisat - that proves my point that even the WAG have been "made to wait"

But the biggest issue has been the patchy roll out and lack of information and moving into the next area before finishing one area is very frustrating.

Like many public services or programmes in Wales it is handled poorly with no fear of messing up, If I preformed that poorly I would be moved on quickly.
Posted by ian72 about 1 year ago
@chrisat the fight to get sign ups to hit your ADSL trigger may be showing why your area isn't a priority. It suggests that maybe there aren't a high number of people in the area willing to pay for broadband/higher speeds and therefore it is better financially for BT to go to areas where they will get a higher conversion rate.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
that's something you have to take up with superfast crmru around scheduling atd timing
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
We've lost the column tracking against a 5Mbps USC.

Have you heard something about the budget this afternoon, and a change of mind?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
5 Mbps USO went away due to page width, I still have the figures.

Plus had a few people thinking because it was mentioned it was an actual in place legal thing.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@Seaview1985 What the politicians won't tell you is that as goal is 90% superfast in phase 1 (96% fibre) then there will be gaps, i.e. there is NO requirement to do all of ANY area.

There are mandates to provide value for money, so if the last 3 cabs in an area will cost more they will move to another area and enable some better value for money ones.

Remember no-one has promised 100% of premises Superfast.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
On the FTTPoD update, the original document shows this is an additional measure to the extra 42,000 properties.

And an interesting snippet on take-up: They're running at 22% in places where it has been live for 12 months+. And have targeted 50% by 2024 (which seems like a long way off).
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
Does this extension mean that the original project has failed and has been extended to June 2017, or is it just for the second phase infill and the original project is still on target for completion mid 2016?

I can see several places that keep getting pushed back, they must be building up a bit of a backlog with the push-backs. and although they say there are no problems and everything's on track, this report suggests there are issues with landowners:
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@csimon we will see how the percentages track won't we.

Project might work around delayed cabinets and do others elsewhere to make up for the short fall, hence the old rule plans may change.

The wayleave may be more to do with private land and business parks.

Signs that Carmarthenshire might be about to pick up pace in terms of coverage are visible.
Posted by jumpmum about 1 year ago
Chrisat:- Remember that when they started the bottom nine all had zeros in every column!
Now 3 are practically at 80% that is actually very impressive. The priorities seem to have been set by WAG so Gwynedd and Anglesey were started first and Carmarthen and Pembroke last and that reflects in the table.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
@jumpmum: The key word there is "started". They "start" lots of places then leave them and go away and "start" other places. Gwynedd was "started" first in summer 2013, but as you can see from the table it's in the bottom half by now, the top half dominated by southern counties.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
The scale of Wales and what 96% fibre based means should be appreciated...

If all other parts of Wales made it to 99% then they could totally ignore Conwy.
Posted by jumpmum about 1 year ago
csimon:- I know you know Gwynedd and to have reached 79.4% in 2 years is still very impressive, I was ignoring those inside(south of) the A465 as the vast majority were commercial and none are rural compared with the rest. Those 9 at the bottom had NO SFBB in mar 2013 so have had ALL their penetration done since with BDUK funding. To complete Gwynedd to much above 80% would have caused even more howls of pain from the other 7 areas with Zero.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
Aye, and it also shows how little the commercial companies are willing to do when left to their own devices.
Posted by fastman about 1 year ago
assume the intervention are / would have been ebveng greater had the commercial companies not made their investment -- BS BDUK is a massive amount of Commercial funding as well not just BDUk / WAG money
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
It's about hand and half I think? so the commercial companies got their equipment in for half price. Nice one! But the point is there shouldn't have been any "intervention" at all, the point of putting infrastructure into the hands of the private sector is to ensure choice and quality and value for everyone. It obviously failed.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
*half and half
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
And it's a good job there was taxpayers' money there to enable this to happen. Oh wait, the the government wants taxes to reduce and people are duped into voting for them on the basis that it will put slightly more money in their pockets. But how will anything ever get paid for in the future, I hear you cry.
Posted by ValueforMoney about 1 year ago
The FoD re-positioning remains at odds with the sate aid conditions on affordability (wholeale rental) and availability to all, and the original offers by BT to BDUK and the counties.
The £205m subsidy was to cover 3,000 cabs so a healthy £60K+ subsidy each if no FTTP is planned.
Posted by john_kingdon about 1 year ago
Figures for Bridgend County seem to be missing.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Does the affordability requirement apply to the ultrafast availability (ie the 100Mbps bit)?

Or does it just apply to the superfast availability bit?
Posted by Hadenough about 1 year ago
Barmouth west Wales was enabled 18 months ago, yet BT still say it is unavailable, WHY, because only 1 street cabinet has been fitted in the whole town,other towns in North Wales the same,HUGE con trick by "Superfast"Wales,BT and the Welsh Assembly. They are counting the enabled exchanges as coverage and not availability to the general public because street cabinets are NOT being fitted.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
Nope. The statistics on homes passed are based only on those who are on upgraded cabinets, and almost always only counts those who are capable of getting superfast speeds.

It has been this way for years.

As it happens, Barmouth had 3 cabinets activated in 2013, has 1 cabinet activate 4 months ago, and has the fifth (and final) one still within the plans.

It looks like most of Barmouth's EO lines have been picked up by these cabinets, but some are planned to be covered by FTTP too.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
The fact the BT figures talk of 79% superfast and our own data (lots of hard work) is within 1% helps to show that what @WWWombat said is the case, i.e. it is not exchange wide figures that are used. This impression though i believe arises from the wording used on some checkers.

Problem is that for an individual it does not matter if 99.99% have access is they are one of the 0.001%.
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