Press release

Wales hits major 1million fibre broadband milestone

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

More than a million households and businesses across Wales can now connect to high-speed fibre broadband.

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More than a million households and businesses across Wales can now connect to high-speed fibre broadband, BT announced today (11th February 2015)..

The landmark digital revolution milestone will be celebrated at the Big Pit in Blaenavon. Better known for its link to the past and the industrial revolution, the World Heritage Site becomes the latest community in Wales to benefit from high speed connectivity.

The 1m total includes more than 130,000 premises in Cardiff, 90,000 in Swansea and 50,000 in both Newport and Wrexham.

This milestone has been achieved through BT’s commercial fibre roll-out and Superfast Cymru, the partnership between the Welsh Government, UK Government the European Union and BT.

In order to provide 1m premises with access to high quality digital connectivity, engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, have laid more than 2150km of fibre cable – the equivalent of Cardiff to St Petersburg - and built more than 3200 roadside green cabinets.

The extensive deployment is also leading to more jobs for Wales. BT has created 250 full time engineering jobs in Wales during the last two years – five times more than originally anticipated - and recruited more than 110 apprentices. The company has also recruited many computer science graduates and apprentices across Wales.

Parliamentary under Secretary of State, Alun Cairns, said:

This is great news and clearly demonstrates that investing in world class infrastructure is top of our agenda.

By getting this digital infrastructure to all corners of Wales, local businesses faced a big challenge when competing with companies in other parts of the UK with a quality broadband connection are now propelling the Welsh economy.

It’s a great example of the success that can be achieved when private and public sectors work together to deliver projects that will change homes and businesses across the length and breadth of Wales.

It is important that we support this investment by driving up the take up rate of Superfast broadband and investing in skills to take advantage of this capital investment

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said:

This is a tremendous achievement and shows the impact Superfast Cymru is having along with the commercial roll out. Superfast Cymru is bringing fast fibre broadband to communities across Wales which would not otherwise receive it.

There is now work going on in every local authority in Wales as we work towards our aim of 96% of premises in Wales having access to fast fibre broadband by Spring 2016. Superfast Cymru is an ambitious and challenging programme, which is making a real difference. Fast fibre broadband benefits homes and businesses and will ensure that Wales is at the forefront of the digital revolution.

Welcoming this engineering feat Ann Beynon, BT Wales Director, said:

BT is transforming the broadband landscape of Wales. We have made a major investment of hundreds of millions of pounds through our own commercial fibre broadband programme and the Superfast Cymru partnership.

We’re celebrating this major milestone in Blaenavon – a part of Wales which has such clear links to the industrial revolution.

Today, a million homes and businesses in Wales can embrace the digital revolution. Access to high-speed and secure communications is vital for the future economic prosperity of our country.

Coverage in Wales is already ahead of other European countries such as France, Spain and Italy and on a par with Germany, but there’s still a great deal to do and we will be driving forward to go as far as possible as quickly as possible.

David Hughes, Head of the European Commission Office in Wales, said:

Projects like this bring huge benefits for businesses and citizens. Superfast Cymru will allow Wales to seize the opportunities offered by the digital single market.

It is a perfect example of how European Regional Funds can help Europe’s recovery and directly contribute to creating jobs and growth. Providing fast and reliable access to the internet plays a vital role in supporting regional economic development.

Superfast Cymru is the largest partnership of its kind in the UK. Funding of £205m has been provided by the Welsh Government, UK Government and the European Union, with BT contributing a further £220m to deliver fibre across Wales via its commercial roll-out and the Superfast Cymru programme.

Superfast Cymru will see high-speed fibre broadband being brought to areas of Wales which would otherwise not receive it. The Welsh Government aims to make fibre available to 96 per cent of premises in Wales by Spring 2016.

Openreach is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. In addition to download speeds in excess of 80Mbps, FTTC also delivers upload speeds of up to 20Mbps - and could deliver even faster speeds in the future*. Under Superfast Cymru, an average speed of 61mbps is available.

Fast fibre broadband access is offered to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, underpinning a competitive market. Households and businesses are not connected to fast fibre broadband automatically. Customers who want superfast speeds need to contact an internet service provider (ISP) to sign up to receive the technology. There are several ISPs offering fibre broadband in Wales so customers can shop around and choose the package that is best for them. If they choose not to upgrade to fibre broadband, they will be able to continue using their existing broadband service.

Published 11 February 2015