Powys

Reference Library – Wales – Powys Broadband

Report with recommendations for Digital Infrastructure in Wales published

Back in January 2017 we attended the Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee in Cardiff to give evidence on the state of broadband coverage across Wales and answer various questions the committee posed. Now in September the final report has been published1 and includes some 12 recommendations. This news article is a little long, so we’d like to make one recommendation in public to the Welsh Government: There is no doubt that if future proofing broadband for those in the 8.5% who cannot get superfast broadband today is at all important that full fibre (FTTP) solutions should be delivered. Several areas of Wales now have such large amounts of FTTP that the benefits should be measureable in terms of connection reliability and benefits this brings to business and home workers particularly.

We raised concerns over confusion about what the Superfast Cymru project was delivering and unfortunately this confusion still exists in the report, in short the confusion over what the 96% target is Wales actually is continues. For those that don’t know, the target is usually referred to as 96% fibre based broadband coverage across Wales, which would thus include VDSL2 lines at lengths where speeds of only 1 to 2 Mbps (or even less) were possible and this woolly definition may explain some of the public anger. We said that references to the final 4% back in January were misleading but still there is talk of connecting the final 4% across Wales when if the goal is to deliver superfast there is still more than 4% that needs delivering.

As the topic of where Wales is in terms of roll-out is so important we have included our usual analysis table with a few changes to the columns, and at 95.9% fibre based coverage Wales is actually only 1,600 premises away from meeting the fibre based target on our tracking. If the 96% target is a stricter one, e.g. only lines with speeds of 10 Mbps or faster are available then they are just 0.5% shy of the goal (another 6,700 premises). With a goal stated a couple of years ago of delivering 80,000 premises of native GEA-FTTP across Wales and lots of FTTP areas showing as in build both of these targets look achievable and before December 2017. The end of 2017 is important as any grace period for delays in the build ends and penalty clauses are believed to kick in for BT, so we can expect an all hands on deck invasion of Wales by Openreach in the next couple of months. Of course no-one can be 100% accurate on such large and dynamic datasets, so if Welsh politicians want to say the 96% target has been reached it is so close that we will not fight that – the issues we have is that the superfast coverage levels are still down at 91.5% and the majority of the public when they hear 96% target reached for SuperfastCyrmu project will immediately think that this is incorrectly 96% coverage at superfast speeds, and we include journalists in this, as all too often once press releases are re-hashed for publication the wrong labels are used.

If you want to read our summary of the recommendations from the report, scroll past the coverage table.

thinkbroadband analysis of Superfast, USC, USO and Fibre Broadband Coverage across the Wales and delivery via the BDUK project.
data 20th September 2017Area% fibre based
VDSL2 or
FTTP or
Cable% Openreach VDSL2/FTTP% superfast
30 Mbps or faster% Ultrafast
100 Mbps or faster

% Full Fibre
(Openreach FTTP)

% Under 2 Mbps download% Under 10 Mbps downloadWales 95.9% 94.1% 91.5% 32.6%

3.01%

(2.79%)

1% 4.5%

Total Premises

1,323,059

1,268.494 1,245,351 1,210,532 431,079

39,874

(36,921)

12,586 59,171 BDUK Project
Excludes FTTP (*) 99% 98.6% 90.8% 6.7% 0% 2% 4.3% Wales in January 2013 45.4% 45.4% 44.1% 28.7% 0.25% 6% 22.5% Abertawe – Swansea 98.4% 93.9% 97.1% 72.8%

1.91%

(1.91%)

0.1% 1% Blaenau Gwent 99.9% 99.9% 98.3% 1.1%

1.05%

(1.05%)

0.2% 0.4% Bro Morgannwg – the Vale of Glamorgan 96.7% 95.6% 93.7% 52.4%

2.07%

(2.07%)

0.6% 3.2% Caerdydd – Cardiff 99% 94.2% 98.2% 79.7%

2%

(0.08%)

0% 0.3% Caerffili – Caerphilly 99% 99% 96.1% 0.3%

0.25%

(0.25%)

0.1% 0.8% Casnewydd – Newport 97.4% 90.2% 96.1% 68.5%

1.49%

(1.49%)

0.1% 1.3% Castell-nedd Port Talbot – Neath Port Talbot 98.6% 96.7% 96% 60.7%

1.42%

(1.42%)

0.5% 1% Conwy 95.1% 95.1% 90.5% 1.8%

1.76%

(1.76%)

1.2% 5.6% Gwynedd 93% 63% 82.9% 11.4%

11.36%

(11.36%)

1.9% 9.8% Merthyr Tudful – Merthyr Tydfil 99.5% 99.5% 96.9% 3.1%

3.07%

(3.07%)

0.3% 0.6% Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr – Bridgend 97.3% 97.3% 95.5% 0.8%

0.80%

(0.80%)

0.2% 1% Powys 84.5% 84.5% 71.3% 12%

11.96%

(11.96%)

4.2% 19% Rhondda Cynon Taf 99.2% 98.3% 96.8% 9.1%

0.50%

(0.50%)

0.1% 0.7% Sir Benfro – Pembrokeshire 92.5% 92.5% 82.5% 3.6%

3.46%

(3.46%)

2.7% 10.7% Sir Ddinbych – Denbighshire 86.9% 86.9% 82.8% 1.3%

1.30%

(1.30%)

0.7% 10.4% Sir Fynwy – Monmouthshire 95.7% 95.7% 84.3% 4.5%

4.54%

(4.54%)

3.4% 9.5% Sir Gaerfyrddin – Carmarthenshire 91.1% 91.1% 81.2% 4%

3.98%

(3.98%)

2.8% 11.4% Sir y Fflint – Flintshire 95.8% 95.8% 91.1% 5.9%

5.84%

(5.84%)

0.4% 3.9% Sir Ynys Mon – Isle of Anglesey 93.5% 93.5% 84.6% 11.8%

11.81%

(11.81%)

1.6% 9% Tor-faen – Torfaen 97.9% 97.7% 95.9% 30.2%

2.05%

(2.05%)

0.2% 1% Wrecsam – Wrexham 95.8% 95.8% 90.7% 3%

3.01%

(3.01%)

0.7% 3.8%

(*) In Wales the vast majority of Openreach GEA-FTTP is via the BDUK project, but indentifying new build estate commercial FTTP versus the BDUK areas is too time consuming to resolve, so we have included the BDUK footprint excluding FTTP. The full fibre column features two figures and any other coverage reports from now on will follow the same pattern, the first figure is full fibre irrespective of who the operator is and the figure in brackets is the contribution from Openreach, this change will hopefully highlight the contribution from operators such as Hyperoptic in Cardiff.

  1. Problems with communication have hampered the project and any future contract should include a communication performance target.
  2. A grant or equity scheme should be established to help small operators fill in the gaps in the network. Public ownership or partnerships should also be explored.
  3. Future schemes should build on the success of the Access Broadband Cymru and Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher schemes.
  4. It is vital that the hardest to reach communities and individuals are now engaged in the process to ensure that potential solutions can be tailored to their needs. Connecting the final 4% is will (typo in report)be more expensive and it is vital that communities buy in to to the solutions being proposed.
  5. As assessment of future needs is needed to inform the next stages. Connectivity needs to be suitable for now and the future.
  6. Welsh Government should consider making future public subsidy conditional on supporting government policy to improve digital infrastructure and to ensure that it meets the needs of consumers in the future.
  7. The planning regime should be reformed to support investment in digital connectivity.
  8. Welsh Government does not have the powers to force mobile operators to share infrastructure, but should encourage this.
  9. Work with Ofcom and Mobile Network Operators to offer non-domestic rates relief on new mobile masts in non-commercial areas.
  10. Work more closely with stakeholders over forthcoming Mobile Action Plan
  11. Ofcom needs to use all its regulatory powers to ensure its 100% geographic coverage target is met.
  12. Welsh Government and planning authorities should a toolkit to make acecss to grant and and community funding for those that want to enhance mobile connectivity in their area.

For those living in Wales who have checked their postcode on the Openreach site2 we estimate that something like 20,000 to 40,000 premises are pencilled in for FTTP to be delivered by end of December 2017, and as such this will tip the project past its original goals.

The real question now is what will Wales actually do in terms of additional contracts and how will the gainshare be used, ?56m which has been announced as available to extend coverage, this could deliver 30,000 to 40,000 premises of full fibre coverage that is thus fully future proofed. Voucher schemes while appealing and a good way of dealing with those in most need who find out about the scheme but carry the risk of explotation in the form of prices rising to maximise income for operators from the vouchers, the bigger issue is that vouchers tend to pass much of the public with out them noticing simply because for most people their family and job occupy most of their time rather than chasing better broadband – yes poor and slow broadband is a real pain but other aspects of life often mean the majority only learn about better broadband options when its pointed out to them individually. This is actually a major problem with FTTP roll-outs where the choice of provider is limited, both for the Openreach and other alternate operators – this issue does vanish once you reach the community led efforts of B4RN and its clones since community spirit takes over.

Comments

Post a comment

Login3 Register4

References

  1. ^ final report has been published (www.assembly.wales)
  2. ^ Openreach site (www.openreach.co.uk)
  3. ^ Login (www.thinkbroadband.com)
  4. ^ Register (www.thinkbroadband.com)

People in Carmarthenshire have ‘slowest internet in UK’ according to new report

People in Carmarthenshire who suffer the worst internet speeds in the UK should be compensated, according to a new report. It’s been revealed that almost 14,000 properties in the Carmarthen East and Dinefwr area have inadequate broadband, making it the worst parliamentary constituency in the whole of the UK for broadband speeds, and the report – carried out by the British Infrastructure Group – states that there is a “strong case for automatically compensating broadband customers receiving inadequate speeds”. It also calls on regulator Ofcom to take a more active role in the delivery of compensation to customers who don’t receive the standard of service expected from broadband providers.

One of those providers, BT, has recently announced its aim to provide 99 per cent of premises in the UK with a minimum broadband speed of 10 mbs (megabyte per second) within the next three years, but the report assessed that 13,874 broadband connections in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr may fail to receive that speed.

“I am deeply disappointed by the findings of the report which have shown a lacklustre approach by broadband providers in Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and indeed across Carmarthenshire,” said MP Jonathan Edwards.

“The report clearly outlines how Carmarthenshire is very much in the slow lane when compared with the rest of the UK.

“Underlining this dire record by broadband providers and the Labour Welsh Government is the fact that existing broadband infrastructure programmes often overlook rural communities, where rural broadband connectivity seems of secondary importance in an urban area-dominated rush to meet targets.

“There are mounting challenges for our rural communities here in Carmarthenshire, but also across Wales. Ensuring an equal service obligation and the effective provision of broadband in rural areas will be one step in ensuring that rural communities are able to meet these challenges. Our rural communities must not be punished for their geography in the provision of broadband connectivity.”

People In Carmarthenshire Have 'slowest Internet In UK' According To New Report MP Jonathan Edwards: “Rural communities must not be punished for their geography”

Mr Edwards’ concerns about rural parts of Wales being left behind appear to be stacked up by the fact that Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Ceredigion, and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire were all rated in the worst five constituencies in Wales for high speed internet access in 2016. Meanwhile, the best performing five constituencies are all based in and around Cardiff and Swansea.

Percentage of broadband connections slower than 10 mbs in 2016:

– Carmarthen East and Dinefwr: 58.2%

– Ceredigion: 55.1%

– Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire: 49.8%

– Gower: 26.3%

– Swansea East: 25.2%

– Cardiff West: 24.5%

– Cardiff Central: 22.6%

– Swansea West: 20%

Read More

Assembly Member Adam Price believes that broadband should be thought of as an “essential service”, rather than something that one should only expect in more urban areas.

“I support the principle that Ofcom should explore automatically compensating broadband customers who consistently fail to receive the speed they pay for,”said Mr Price.

“Slow and unreliable broadband connections can leave rural customers and companies at a significant disadvantage.

“Broadband should be considered an essential service for our rural economies and we will continue to champion this issue over the coming months to ensure that Carmarthenshire can catch up and isn’t left behind in future.”

People In Carmarthenshire Have 'slowest Internet In UK' According To New Report BT has announced its aim to provide 99 per cent of premises in the UK with a minimum broadband speed of 10 mbs by 2020

The Welsh Government says the report is misleading, and that its Superfast Cymru programme already gives people in Carmarthen East and Dinfewr, and further afield, access to a faster broadband service should they wish to utilise it.

“There has been tremendous progress in the availability of superfast broadband across the country thanks to the work of the Welsh Government,” a spokeswoman said.

“Over 647,000 premises can now access it in Wales as a result of the Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru programme.

“The latest Ofcom report shows that Wales has the highest availability of superfast broadband among the devolved nations, largely thanks to the Superfast Cymru programme, with over eight out of ten premises with access. This compares with just over half in 2014.”

Read More

The government also point to the fact that more than 50,000 premises in Carmarthenshire as a whole can now access superfast broadband, and that it is committed to ensuring that fast internet connectivity is available to all.

“While we’re aware of the UK Government’s plans for a 10Mbps+ Universal Service Obligation (USO), the Welsh Government is already working towards offering fast reliable broadband to every property in Wales,” the spokeswoman added.

“As well as Superfast Cymru the Welsh Government also offers schemes such as the Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher which provides assistance for businesses to access speeds of more than 330mbps.”

People can check here1 to see if their property is eligible for superfast broadband.

References

  1. ^ here (gov.wales)

BT to bring 10Mbps broadband to 99% of the UK by 2020 – Which …

In response to a proposed Government regulation, BT has offered to invest ?600m to bring 10Mpbs broadband to 99% of UK households by 2020 and provide full coverage by 2022.

Internet regulatory body Ofcom estimates that 1.4 million households do not get at least 10Mbps internet speed, though some MPs think the number is closer to 5.3 million. If the government accepts BT’s offer, then its own universal services obligation would be shelved. The proposed plan, which was due to be rolled out in 2020, would give anyone in the UK the right to demand a 10Mbps broadband connection regardless of where they live. BT intends to proactively connect remote homes rather than wait for the request.

Broadband speed test1 – find out if you’re getting the speeds offered by your provider

A good move for consumers?

Although the government has yet to accept the offer, it was well received, with Culture Secretary Karen Bradley saying: ‘We warmly welcome BT’s offer and now will look at whether this or a regulatory approach works better for homes and businesses.

‘Whichever of the two approaches we go with in the end, the driving force behind our decision-making will be making sure we get the best deal for consumers.’

If the government decides that BT’s offer is a better solution than the proposed universal services obligation then it would be legally binding. BT subsidiary Openreach would be responsible for carrying out the work and BT would recoup the costs through customer bills.

Labour’s shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson had reservations about BT’s plan. He warned: ‘Businesses will be concerned that the 10Mbps minimum broadband speed will be outdated and inadequate before it is even fully delivered. Rather than choose an ambitious broadband speed the government went with the cheapest, which will leave us running to catch up with digital developments for years to come.’

As streaming and downloading increases demand for faster speeds, it is possible that 10Mbps will not be quick enough by the time every household gets that speed by 2022. Netflix already recommends a minimum speed of 25Mbps to stream 4K content and the rapid increase of internet-connected devices in the home will further increase the strain. BT’s proposal is meeting the minimum requirements rather than looking ahead to what those requirements might be in three and five years time.

Is 10Mbps enough for you? Use our broadband speed advice guide2 to see what speed you need.

BT To Bring 10Mbps Broadband To 99% Of The UK By 2020 – Which ...

Slow speeds are holding the UK back

A recent report from the London Assembly highlighted how poor the UK’s internet is versus other European countries. The report found that only 3% percent of the UK is connected to the internet via fibre optic cables. Fibre cabling is significantly faster than copper cabling, but only 3% of the UK is connected, while 83% of Spanish buildings are connected to fibre.

Despite being the capital, London ranked 30th for high-speed broadband coverage out of 63 UK cities and ranked in the bottom five for 4G coverage. Though London’s coverage is poor it wasn’t one of the regions with the slowest average speeds. The British Infrastructure Group of MPs found that Ross, Skye and Lochaber in Scotland have the worst broadband.

65.6% of connections are slower than the government’s minimum speed of 10Mbps. Carmarthen East and Dinefwr were the slowest regions in Wales where 58.2% of connections are slower than 10Mpbs. Kingston upon Hull East, Yorkshire and the Humber were the slowest regions in England – 56.8% don’t reach 10Mbps.

Which? is campaigning to fix bad broadband

Our own research3 into internet speeds across the UK also found that Scottish regions were suffering the slowest speeds, with the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and the Highlands getting the slowest average download speeds.

Our research has found that thousands of customers aren’t getting the speeds promised by their provider and we’re campaigning for everyone to get the broadband speeds they pay for. You can find out more about what we’re doing to draw attention to this problem on our Fix Bad Broadband campaign page4 and use our speed checker to help us get a better picture of the state of broadband in the UK.

BT To Bring 10Mbps Broadband To 99% Of The UK By 2020 – Which ...

Can you improve your connection?

If you don’t fancy waiting until 2022 to get 10Mbps broadband then you could do what Powys resident Professor Christopher Spry did. Tired of his rubbish 500kbps download speed, he took matters into his own hands and started getting his internet from a satellite 22,000 miles away over the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He pays ?420 a year for the service and now gets 28Mbps download speeds, which isn’t far off the 30.4Mbps average speed for Tamworth, which our research found to have the fastest speeds in the UK.

Read our satellite broadband guide5 to see if the service could be right for you.

References

  1. ^ Broadband speed test (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ broadband speed advice guide (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Our own research (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Fix Bad Broadband campaign page (campaigns.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ satellite broadband guide (www.which.co.uk)