Wales announces next scheme and squeeze 2,500 more premises out of Openreach
The hard stop on the Superfast Cymru project has annoyed those in Wales who were seeing the old project get closer and closer and suddenly cease and today as part of the announcements around the next broadband roll-out scheme there is the news that work for an extra two months under the existing contract with Openreach will take place to deliver another 2,500 premises and importantly at no extra cost to the Welsh Government. Additionally details of those areas that have been left partially constructed has been requested of Openreach with a view to figuring out how to complete these under the the old Superfast Cymru contract.
Through Superfast Cymru we have fundamentally altered the broadband landscape in Wales, bringing superfast broadband to areas of Wales that simply would not have been connected.
We must not lose sight of the significant achievement that this large scale engineering project represents. Homes and businesses the length and breadth of Wales are now enjoying the benefits of this investment and accessing digital services.
Despite the success of Superfast Cymru in transforming broadband connectivity across Wales, there is clearly more work to be done and this Government is committed to taking further action.
The suite of measures I am announcing today, when taken together, will help us to realise the ambition described in Taking Wales Forward to bring people together digitally by offering fast reliable broadband to every property in Wales.
Together, the successor scheme, the community scheme and our voucher schemes will provide a comprehensive package of interventions that will help us meet the challenges ahead.Leader of the House with responsibility for Digital Julie James
We have asked as to whether the new scheme will be a single contract or lots and minutes after hitting publish we have found the EU tender document so will talk about the three lots at the end of the article. The contracts are designed to encourage rural delivery, prioritisation for business and also ultrafast 100 Mbps services.
Lots of campaigners across the UK have tried to get an outside in approach to roll-outs for many years and the new Welsh scheme may help to realise that ambition as apparently roll-out will be encouraged in the areas with the lowest download speeds and more so if 4G mobile data coverage is poor.
The existing voucher schemes are set to continue but what we believe is new is a dedicated broadband outreach team to help procure a solution where people or businesses want to cluster vouchers.
In terms of whether Openreach delivered on their contract, the Welsh Assembly is saying wait until spring when they will have completed their own testing and verification processes based on the latest data from Openreach. The previous Open Market Review figure of 98,000 premises needing help to reach 30 Mbps and faster superfast speeds has had its figure reviewed down to 88,000 premises, reflecting the number of premises that are not expected to get superfast speeds in the next three years without Government help. This lines up to within 1,800 premises of our current figures for the gap between 93.8% superfast coverage and 100% coverage.
Update 17:10pm The tender as all tenders this large is available on the EU tender site and reveals that three lots form part of the Next Generation Access Broadband Wales - Phase 2 project. All three projects carry the definition that solutions must deliver 30 Mbps or faster download speeds to as many promises as possible and contract lengths of 117 months.
- North West Wales - comprising 21,125 NGA white premises and an estimated contract value of £14,858,000
- East Wales - comprising 30,862 NGA white premises and a value of £21,706,000
- South West Wales - comprising 36,166 NGA white premises and a value of £25,436,000
The invite to tender suggests that this is just the first phase of potential solutions, which is probably a way of covering the voucher and community schemes. On the funding the tender document confirms current availability of £62 million but there is a possible £138 million of additional funding, so clearly with the bids it looks like there is scope for outlining what can be delivered for different combinations of technology and maybe there is scope for a full fibre heavy bid to make the case for more money behind the contract value.
The ability to submit tenders will end on 20th April 2018, and nothing at all will known about the tenders until the 23rd April when the tenders can be opened. More documents (maybe a map) may be on the etenderwales website but as the site is throwing a SSL certificate error and 'precondition failed' messages it seems best to not send lots of people off to look there.