Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology’s statement on Superfast Broadband

 

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James AM has announced that it is the Welsh Government’s ambition that every house and business in Wales will get superfast broadband. Extraordinary progress has been made to date to ensure Wales is a truly digital nation. Technological advances and the commitment of phone companies to provide 4G across the territory have become increasingly viable alternatives. More people are set to receive superfast broadband in Wales as the successful programme brings it to areas which would have otherwise not received it is expanded, with over 42,000 more premises set to benefit,.

Superfast Cymru has already made great progress with around 480,000 premises now able to access faster broadband speeds. This stage of the programme has been backed by funding from the Welsh Government, European Regional Development Fund and UK Government. When combined with the commercial roll-out 79% of premises in Wales have access to faster fibre broadband, putting Wales ahead of the EU average and of countries such as France and Italy. 

 

The Minister assured Members that rural communities will not be left behind, ensuring that the costs are the same in rural areas as that in urban areas. Superfast broadband has also had an impact in creating new jobs and creating apprenticeships. 

 

Superfast Cymru will now run until June 2017 in order to cover the additional premises which have been identified since the project began. 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.  

 

Throughout the negotiation with BT, fibre on demand will be available across almost the whole country. This is a business focus ultrafast technology. Swansea has been used to test BT ultrafast technology called G.fast. Today only 22% premises have taken up the services, as the deployment gets to more homes and businesses we need to make sure that they take up superfast broadband. The target for 2024 is 50% take up. The Deputy Minister urged all Members to promote this to their constituents.

Further measures announced by the Deputy Minister today 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% 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 said:

“We are committed to making Wales a digital nation, and the success of Superfast Cymru so far, which has been backed by Welsh Government funding, is testament to that.  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.  Now we are ahead of the European average. 

 

“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. Faster broadband is vital for our businesses and today’s announcements are a recognition of that.”

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.”

Ann Beynon, BT Wales Director 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.”

 

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