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
30 Mbps or faster
|% cable||% Openreach FTTP||% Under 2 Mbps USC||% Under 15 Mbps|
|Rhondda Cynon Taf||95.5%||90.4%||88.8%||7.7%||0%||1.6%||4.2%|
|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%|
|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%|
|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%|
|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.