A multi-million pound expansion of a broadband provision scheme in Wales will see over 42,000 more premises in business parks and industrial estates across the country benefitting from a superfast internet connection.
Superfast Cymru - a programme part funded by the UK Government – is designed to bring fast fibre broadband to areas across Wales which would not otherwise receive it.
The programme will now run until June 2017 in order to cover the additional premises which have been identified since the project began. These premises are either new build or were due for roll-out under telecommunications companies’ own plans and have been subsequently deemed to be economically unviable.
The expansion is backed by £19m of funding made up of contributions from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and expected funding from the EU, while BT will also invest significant extra funding.
A key part of the UK Government’s plan for growth is to provide better infrastructure and connectivity to Wales. This announcement is a positive step towards this goal.
Wales Office Minister Alun Cairns said:
This has been a priority for the UK Government and we have made significant process.
I am very pleased that over 40,000 more premises across Wales will now share in the benefits of superfast broadband – joining the nearly half a million homes and businesses in Wales that our project has already reached.
Access to faster, more reliable broadband has a significant impact on our lives - from the way we shop to the way we communicate, helping businesses to grow and compete in the global market.
The UK Government will continue doing all it can to support this ambitious scheme and ensure that Wales doesn’t get left behind in the digital revolution.
Further measures announced include:
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 take up target for superfast broadband of fifty percent by 2024. Current take up is 22 per cent in areas which have had the service for over one year, one of the highest in the UK.
Work is continuing on a new scheme to make superfast speeds available to all homes and businesses across Wales. It will build on the success of the Access Broadband Cymru scheme and will use a range of technologies including satellite, wireless and 4G to deliver superfast speeds.
The Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James said:
We set ourselves the challenge of bringing superfast broadband to parts of Wales where the market would simply never go and we have made extraordinary progress through Superfast Cymru.
To the end of June we have provided superfast broadband to nearly half a million premises, that is around 480,000 that would not be able to receive superfast broadband speeds without our intervention.
Progress to date is no small part thanks to the significant efforts of the BT workforce and their sub contractors.
I am also pleased today to announce the contract with Airband and that BT will make “Fibre on Demand” available across Wales, and only in Wales. Faster broadband is vital for our businesses and today’s announcements are recognition of that.
Superfast Cymru has already made great progress with around 480,000 premises now able to access faster broadband speeds. When combined with the commercial roll-out 79 per cent of premises in Wales will have access to superfast broadband, putting Wales ahead of the EU average and of countries such as France and Italy.
BT Director for Wales Ann Beynon said:
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.
Founding Partner at Airband said:
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.