Superfast broadband 'tailored' plan to boost reach
A new scheme to extend superfast broadband across Wales will be “tailored to the needs” of particular areas, a Welsh minister has said. Julie James said a project to be announced next week would not be a single contract but several “lots”. She said the aim was to tackle “very specific problems for very specific parts of Wales”.
The new rollout programme will target the 98,000 premises not connected under the Superfast Cymru project. Speaking to the assembly’s economy committee on Thursday, Ms James said: “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.
There are very specific problems for very specific parts of Wales that we will be looking to cover off.” AMs have complained many rural communities promised superfast broadband connections failed to get them before the Superfast Cymru project ended in December. Ms James, the minister responsible for digital infrastructure, said Openreach had “done a good job” on the rollout and it was likely that the target of reaching 96% of premises in Wales had been achieved.
She accepted that the end of the original project in December had still left some people disappointed, but she claimed the new scheme would help address that. Ms James said she would give details in a statement to AMs next week.
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Kim Mears, managing director for infrastructure delivery at Openreach, told the committee the firm had been contracted to deliver superfast connectivity to 90% of premises, and had actually reached more than 93%. She said she understood the “frustration” of people who had been told they would get superfast broadband but were still waiting, saying: “We have lot to learn.
“One way of giving ultimate certainty is that you don’t tell anyone anything until you know it’s there, and that’s not the right answer,” she said.
“Where we did get it wrong was trying to be open and transparent only to find that last minute issues and barriers got in our way.
“If you’re one of those homes and individuals who believed that you were going to get superfast connectivity, and you ended up without, I absolutely share the frustration and truly understand what that must feel like.”