Welsh budget allocates £20m extra to Next Generation Broadband project
As part of the £15.4bn Welsh Budget for Growth, £10m extra is being invested in the Next Generation Broadband Wales project in 2013-2014 and a further £10m in 2014 to 2015. The central aim of the project is to provide superfast broadband to 96% of businesses and homes in 2015, and to continue until a goal of 100% coverage has been met.
This extra money comes from the Centrally Retained Capital Fund, though there is some question as to whether the original 96% coverage target is the target for this money or ensuring a universal form of access to 2 Mbps and faster. Until firm plans have been announced it is impossible to really evaluate how sensible the amount of money being thrown at the problem is, and how likely that the target will be met.
BT was announced as the contract winner in July, and current expectation is that actual delivery work will start in 2013. The noise about BT pushing up costs will be further fueled we are sure by this extra funding, though it is entirely possible that the money may be allocated to an extension of the FibreSpeed project or other solutions that are a part of the Welsh Digital Strategy. FibreSpeed built by Geo provides the potential for community fibre hubs and by extending the service beyond business parks might demonstrate what digital hubs can achieve.