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New superfast broadband drive for Wales unveiled

Firms will be invited to make superfast broadband available to more people in Wales by the Welsh Government. Julie James, the minister responsible for digital infrastructure, has said a new scheme would be “tailored to the needs” of particular areas. It will target the 98,000 properties not reached by a previous project to extend the reach of quick connections.

Figures show superfast broadband is currently available to around 94% of premises in Wales. However, Ofcom data analysed by the House of Commons library[1] found that communities in Wales had an average broadband speed of 35.4Mbps compared to a UK average of 44.6Mbps. One ward in Denbighshire – Llanbedr Dyffryn Clwyd/Llangynhafal – had the highest percentage of lines, 94%, unable to receive “decent” download speeds of 10Mbps, compared to 3% of the UK as a whole.

Ceredigion and Montgomeryshire were among the ten constituencies with the lowest access to 10Mbps broadband. In 2013, Openreach was hired to expand the reach of superfast broadband (30Mbps or more) to 96% of premises in Wales under a contract with funding from Europe and the Welsh and UK governments. Shortly before the Superfast Cymru project ended in December, the company said more than 700,000 properties had been connected since it began.

Ms James told the Welsh Assembly’s economy committee that a new scheme would tackle “very specific problems for very specific parts of Wales”.

She added: “It will be in lots; it will be tailored to the needs of particular areas of Wales that have differential coverage at the moment. It will not be one contract for Wales this time.” Ms James said BT Openreach had “done a good job” on the rollout of the Superfast Cymru project, although she accepted it had left some people disappointed.

She is expected to give AMs details of the new scheme in the Senedd on Tuesday.

AMs serving rural seats – such as Conservative Angela Burns – have raised concerns that some people told they would be getting superfast broadband before the deadline at the end of December missed out due to delays.

References

  1. ^ Ofcom data analysed by the House of Commons library (researchbriefings.parliament.uk)

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