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8 out of 10 cats can now get superfast broadband in Wales
Tuesday 01 September 2015 10:20:14 by Andrew Ferguson

The roll-out of superfast broadband in Wales is continuing and today we can announce that broadband coverage at 30 Mbps or faster has reached the 80% milestone (81.3% if you use the lesser 24 Mbps target).

Major milestone for Superfast Cymru Project reached

With 1 in 5 still not able to access superfast speeds and those left out becoming increasingly angry it is all to easy to forget that at the start of 2015 the coverage figure was a lot worse at just 69%.

The Superfast Cymru contract was signed back in 2012 with the lofty ambition of 96% fibre based broadband coverage. The current coverage of FTTC, FTTP and cable broadband in Wales without any speed qualifiers is 86.3% so another 9.7 percentage points of coverage are needed if the original by the end of 2015 date are to be met.

The coverage is far from uniform across Wales as the constituency level map shows, but when you consider that Cardiff and the large urban area around it comprise almost half the premises in Wales you can partly understand why commercial coverage concentrated in that part of the country and thus fairs so well in current coverage.

Superfast Cymru is deploying from FTTP/FTTH and coverage of 0.19% is small, but we have heard the ambition is to increase to around 6% or roughly 80,000 premises and based on the reports of people seeing work going on with fibre tubing we do expect the amount of native FTTP to increase in the next few months.

While the FTTC heavy roll-out has not solved all the slow broadband problems yet, we estimate just 0.8% of premises in Wales (around 9,500 to 10,000 premises) are only able to get a slower than 2 Mbps connection, though if the proposed USO figure of 5 Mbps is used this does rise to 7.8%. Based on experience from people with sub 2 Mbps speed connections all too often the choice of provider does not help, as a general rule the big name providers such as Sky and TalkTalk (and TalkTalk wholesale providers like the Post Office) do not provide a very good service outside their core network footprint, so if you are in a slow area and speeds plummet once the kids get home from school consider a change of provider. Another point not often understood is that even if FTTC is available at say 5 to 7 Mbps as it runs across the newer backhaul networks it will often out perform the peak time performance of the older IPStream Max (ADSL) service.


Posted by ZenUser27 about 1 year ago
every time i ever contacted SC they were far from useful. Telling me that they were not involved and it was BT dealing with the rollout.
Posted by Llety about 1 year ago
as a fully paid up member of "the increasingly angry" its the lack of information you can trust and uncertaintly that frustrate. As ZenUser27 says, Superfast Cymru staff are useless to the point of not caring.

We would also be less annoyed if the current ADSL service did not keep getting worse as the roll out continues.
Posted by jumpmum about 1 year ago
Despite the fact that those still left out are as expected unhappy, we nust give some credit as at the start at least 10 if not 11 constituencies had 0% over 24Mb. One of these is now over 70% and two are between 60 & 70% this is really a huge success for those areas and the others are coming up fast behind. The bad news is that Powys and Carmarthenshire may still not get above 70% even when the whole (96%)rollout is finished.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
I've been on the receiving end of SFC's responses too.But it's not so much the front-facing staff that's the problem, it's the policy decided by the upper echelons. "The plebs must not be given any information". And that's exactly how it makes us feel - just plebs who must be kept under control. Whether that's SFC's decision, the WAG's decision, Openreach's decision and exactly why that decision was taken considering it's half publicly-funded, who knows.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
I'm finally able to order fibre npow, 2 years 2ys after the exchange was enabled and I have done...but now I'm caught up in Openreach hell once again as they can't actually supply it, citing "error in ducting". I wonder how many of the people "now able to get" superfast as far as they are one of the premises "past", actually can't.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
*passed, lol.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago
The map demonstrates the conundrum of BDUK very well. If it was intended to extend usable BB to areas that were commercially unviable for BT to reach, its hard to understand how North and South Wales have the best coverage, whilst the most unviable areas still remain in the dark ages.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@PhilCoates if you look at the population of areas some of the less served areas then it is entirely possible to hit 96% fibre based, with 0% coverage in one of the rural areas.

It is this variation in population density that is the key and an understanding what a 90% goal with VFM as perhaps the biggest driver was going to produce.
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I am glad to see that Andrews Staff has quoted it may be possible to get over the 2meg down on a Post Code if you change to a differant ISP and I would exspect the same results applie when changing to FTTC. 24 meg--30 meg so buyer beware.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago
Andrew, of course its population based and many commercially unviable areas are thinly populated. My point was that if commercial unviability because of thin population spread was one driver for BDUK, not much progress has occured in those areas.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
@PhillCoates: The viability has always puzzled me. I've said it before with LLU and then with FTTC roll-outs - how come the North Wales coastal towns are so far down the waiting lists?

I'd have thought it was easy to lay some more fibre along the A55 and the towns don't look any different to any other towns in terms of infrastructure.
Posted by AndrueC about 1 year ago
cont'd: Llandudno (pop. 20,000) and Colwyn Bay (pop. 30k) only got FTTC this year (or maybe late last I can't remember. Meanwhile Brackley (pop.13k) got FTTC four years ago.

Whatever the cause I don't think it's just population density.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Scenario example farms are down 1km lanes in Powys will need more gap funding, so do you choose 50 homes in the village centre, or 2 farms outside the village?

Remember you have
a) Fixed budget
b) Coverage targets and milestones to reach
c) Every man and his dog complaining the roll-out is too slow
Posted by Blackmamba about 1 year ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I would think the Cabs on each Exchange will been planned to be taken/ fibre cabled back to main areas of distribution in a distance of 50--- 75 miles this will pull in the commercial section with the BD/UK this will also tie in with the Costings and deployment of SFB.
Posted by Somerset about 1 year ago
Maybe those that criticise would like to propose properties and areas not to be supplied by BDUK in a less than 100% rollout.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago

Well locally urban areas previously part of BTs commercial roll out which suddenly were not.

Cabinets often serving 400+ properties in Stafford,Eccleshall, Stoke and Cannock not EO lines and not Business parks.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
Eccleshall urban? Does it have more than 10,000 people, wiki suggests not.

Just 17.6% of the UK population live in rural areas.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
@Somerset: "Maybe those that criticise would like to propose properties and areas not to be supplied by BDUK in a less than 100% rollout."

Areas that already have a decent ADSL2+ service, bordering on superfast already? The Ofcom report does suggest 10Mbps as the "sweet spot" I think where the average household doesn't really notice further improvements.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@csimon nice rule, as means that probably only 8 to 10% need work when you apply that sort of rule. Remember ADSL2+ is available to 95% of UK premises, and should run at 8 to 10 Mbps right out to 3km distance (40dB attenuation).
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
i didn't say to use 10Mbps as the dividing line, I said "those with a decent ADSL2+ service, bordering on superfast already". BDUK was about providing superfast, wouldn't there be more "value" in providing to areas that are nowhere near as opposed to areas that are very close, initially at any rate, especially as the definition of "superfast" seems to be quite flexible?
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
...particularly as those who've got 10Mbps and above generally don't notice the improvement hence wouldn't "value" it as much, hence my reference to the Ofcome report.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
The phrase Value for Money has been bandied about. This refers to maximum benefit for the money spent. It depends what the benefits are considered to be. Is it better VFM to upgrade 20 to 40 for 90 people & 0.5 for 10 people or the other way around? Who would value it more? Who gets maximum benefit? Probably a good indicator would be the eventual take-up.
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
But in this case the benefit hasn't been defined in terms of who would benefit the most but how many would benefit. Therefore VFM is subjective and is circular reasoning.VFM has been achieved because the majority of people have benefitted, but only because that's what the goalposts were in the first place. If the aim was to provide superfast where it's needed the most then rollout would have been different & VFM satisfied in a different way.
Posted by PhilCoates about 1 year ago

Eccleshall is a compact village. A BDUK cabinet serving 400+ properties went live about 2 weeks ago. Not EO lines. Difficult to see how that would not be commercially viable especially as the cab is further down the same road.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
What we don't know is what gap funding was actually given for that specific cabinet, it might have been £10k rather than £20k as the commercial case was stronger.

Framework was designed so that the funding for each cabinet varied according to how close it was to being commercially viable.

In short there is a lottery factor until you target 100% delivery.
Posted by jumpmum about 1 year ago
Blackmamba & Others.
Many exchanges outside the Nth and Sth Wales urban areas do not have Cabs, vast areas are EO or from small cabs ( 100 lines or less). This makes the Premises passed far more impressive starting from Zero (0). There was NO commercial rollout in Powys, Carmathenshire, Pembroke, Ceredigion, Gwynedd before BDUK started to hit 70% in some areas is actually very good.
Posted by jumpmum about 1 year ago
Andrew can you do the constituency history at the contract start so that people can see what has actually been achieved. We know it has some way to go and communications are awful BUT actual improvement is huge. A significant number of areas could only get 8Mb as there was no LLU in them at all.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
@jumpmum cannot go that far back, has taken two years of work to get where we are now and thus really only got sensible area/constituency data from the start of 2015 so best you will get is and click the history button
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
@jumpmum: I agree, the effect that BDUK has had is massive and it proves that only public money can provide comms infrastructure. However, "A significant number of areas could only get 8Mb as there was no LLU in them at all"....I would have LOVED to have had 8Mbps for the last 10 years. My exchange does have LLU but that's no guarantee of anything like 8Mbps, which is only just short of Ofcom's "sweet spot" where any further improvements aren't noticed. At 0.4Mbps of course I would have preferred that these areas should have been done first rather than the "poor" 8Mbps areas without LLU.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) about 1 year ago
In my travels see plenty of poor 0.4 Mbps areas jumping to have speeds in the 60 to 70 Mbps region.

Has not happened to me, only jumped from 5 to 7 Mbps to 15 to 20 Mbps, but still getting the job done.
Posted by wittgenfrog about 1 year ago
Thissa joke, right?
It's all very well to trumpet the success of this rollout, but mainly what's been "achieved" is the easy bits, starting from a low base.

A large wodge of the Welsh public lumbered with 0.4Mb/s "broadband", many "lucky" to have 4Mb/s.

If you're a BT Broadband customer in these areas you won't get Sport IPTV Channels loaded into your BT DVR. BT won't enable it unless their "estimate" shows you have over 5.25Mb/s. Their own Movies over IP, and other services on XBOX & PC work perfectly,
They are remarkably untransparent about this when you're buying.....
Posted by csimon about 1 year ago
@Andrew: "..,see plenty of poor 0.4 areas jumping to 60 to 70 Mbps" - that's me hopefully soon. FTTP just become available but Openreach unable to supply ATM due to a fault.

"only jumped from 5-7 Mbps to 15-20 but still getting the job done" - aye, so that jump hasn't had much of an effect and confirms Openreach's "sweet spot"? Yet these were the things that were done first because they hit most people.

0.4 to FTTP is a HUGE jump but in reality not needed.Just needed bringing up to a useable and stable level like most other areas but FTTP the only option. Ultrafast is a side-effect!
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
The "jump from X to Y", and resulting takeup, is a very statistical calculation.

One problem in attempting to generalise too much is that, for any one cabinet, "X" will be a similar speed for most premises on that cab, whereas "Y" runs completely from <20 to >75.

In Andrew's case, a good proportion of the cabinet would be jumping from 5-7 up to 60-80. Only a small proportion will be like him, jumping from 5-7 to 15-20 ... but should that small proportion stop the entire cabinet upgrade?

Remember too that the "done first" cabs were done commercially, where OR is free to choose.
Posted by WWWombat about 1 year ago
The biggest "hidden" issue that can turn cabinets non-viable, even large ones, is the cost of power.

Power companies pass on their "excess construction" charge too ... so if one cabinet supply causes a feed transformer to go out of spec, BT gets the bill for upgrading the whole transformer.

3 cabinets in the middle of Skipton were due to fall out of the commercial programme because of this: £95k for power for the three of them, instead of the regular £3k.
Posted by ericpickering about 1 year ago
I have been connected to a cabinet and been told that I can now get Superfast broadband but this is not so. When I got connected I was told that I was too far from the cabinet and was then left without any sort of connection for a five weeks!
As far as I can tell this is just another con to squeeze money out of a naive government who don't know the difference between being connected and actually getting a signal.
Posted by rkimber about 1 year ago
80% of what? Individuals? I find that hard to believe. Where I live (Lampeter) they brought "superfast" broadband to the centre of the village but then went away, ignoring those of us on the edge.
Posted by BREWERDAVE about 1 year ago
I know I'm joining this debate late -but have to agree about the comment made earlier re ADSL2+.
I (AND I suspect, most of my "village" south of Cardiff) get 16Mb on ADSL2+, YET all the cabs have now been enabled for FTTC - can't help wondering what the take up is !Should the BDUK money have been spent elsewhere ???
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