Broadband News

Welsh Government publishes consultation for next broadband roll-out

The ending of the purdah period may be behind the raft of official broadband news, as we have the news that Wales has launched a month long consultation that ends on 13th July as the Welsh Government considers what to do in terms of fast broadband roll-outs once the existing BT roll-out reaches its end.

I am keen to hear the views of both the telecoms industry and residents and business owners on whether any further premises should be included or whether any premises currently on the list should be excluded.

The consultation will help us to further refine the list of unconnected premises. The more responses we receive, the more comprehensive the list will be.

If there are communities that have an interest in driving their own solutions, I want to hear from them. If there are views on how we should lot the procurement, I want to hear them. If there are views on how we should prioritise or target the funding, I want to hear them.

We have already transformed the situation in Wales through Superfast Cymru. The most recent Ofcom report showed that Wales has the best superfast broadband availability amongst the devolved nations, with over eight out ten premises with access. This compares with just over half in 2014.

But the work does not end when Superfast Cymru ends. We want to reach the final few premises. There will be further engagement with the industry and key stakeholders over the summer to refine the procurement approach with a view to invite formal tenders to deliver the new project in September with the new project beginning in early 2018.

I am committed to achieving our ambitions in Taking Wales Forward to offer fast reliable broadband to every property in Wales

Minister for Skills and Science Julie James

The press release indicates that BT has confirmed superfast broadband at speeds of 30 Mbps and faster is expected to be available to 690,000 premises by the end of December 2017. The consultation is about confirming whether the 98,000 premises identified as not in any commercial plans or part of the roll-out is correct and whether more should be added, or some excluded, the level of public funding for these 98,000 premises is expected to be around £80 million.

The report from the Welsh Government talks of 645,000 premises with access to fast fibre as a result of the programme and if we remove the overlapping cable footprint from the BDUK areas and transfer all the FTTP across we arrive at a figure of 637,845 premises currently, and while this is a more recent figure than Governments report we suspect that some premises with FTTP about to go live may have crept in, or premises are live but we are not aware of it (this most often happens when we see part of an area go live for FTTP, but it takes time for us to cycle back around to revisit areas and spot the extension work).

thinkbroadband calculation of Superfast, USC, USO and Fibre Broadband Coverage across Welsh Premises
figures 14th June 2017
Area% fibre based% superfast
24 Mbps or faster
% superfast
30 Mbps or faster
% Ultrafast
100 Mbps or faster
% Virgin Media Cable% Openreach FTTP% Under 2 Mbps USC% Under proposed 10 Mbps USO
Wales 95.2% 91.1% 90.1 32.1% 29.8 2.29% 0.9% 5.1%
1,320,587 Premises 1,257,198 1,203,054 1,189,848 423,908 393,534 30,241 11,885 67,349
Wales
BDUK
98.9% 91.4% 89.8% 10.9% 6.8% 4.4% 1.8% 4.5%
690,680 Premises 682,764 631,249 620,021 75,151 44,910 30,241 12,548 31,041

From our initial peek at the NGA White postcode list there is some interesting postcodes, and also some premises to add to our data e.g. where estates continue to expand in size, this continual expansion of the housing stock makes the tracking a lot more dynamic than many expect. Additionally there are interesting areas like holiday parks with hundreds of chalets in a postcode, some may be permanently occupied but it will be interesting to see how take-up of fixed line services by the park owners is managed e.g. line per chalet or take one line per park and share this over Wi-Fi, also should hotels be counted in a similar fashion and retirement homes.

Looking forward, we there are some 15,000 to 20,000 premises we know of where FTTP is in the various stages of being built by the project across Wales which will make a big dent in reaching a final figure of 690,000 by the end of the year, and no doubt there will be more appearing along with more VDSL2 cabinets going live. For those still stuck on Exchange Only lines Wales has so far used a mixture of copper network rearrangement (shifted lines to a new cabinet with VDSL2) and on some exchanges we have seen native FTTP rolled out. Some areas are also seeing infill cabinets to bring superfast speeds to areas that have seen a VDSL2 cabinet appear but were too far away, but less of this seems to be happening in Wales compared to the English counties, the preference for long lines is much more in favour of FTTP based on what we have observed.

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