Russell George the Conservative AM for Montgomeryshire in Wales, has criticized the Government’s lack of explanation over the delay in awarding contracts for their new “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) roll-out project, which aims to reach 88,000 extra premises in poorly served areas and could be worth up to £200m.
So far, around 95% of homes and businesses in Wales are already estimated to be in reach of a superfast network, which is partly due to the Superfast Cymru programme that has worked to extend the reach of fibre-based FTTC and FTTP ISP technologies to 733,000 premises. This contract has now ended.
The follow on scheme Phase 2 which was put out to tender at the very start of 2018, aims to extend 30Mbps+ capable networks to “every property” in Wales (with a focus on FTTP “full fibre” connectivity).
The potential value of this new project is up to £200m, although the first tender document only confirmed about £62.5m of that total and is initially targeting an expansion to around 88,000 additional homes and businesses. The investment will be split across three lots and these don’t necessarily have to be won by the same supplier.
Lot 1 — North West Wales (Estimated value: £14.858m)
Intervention Area of 21,125 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 29820 premises potentially available pending further information.
Lot 2 — East Wales (Estimated value: £21.706m)
Intervention Area of 30,862 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 21183 premises potentially available pending further information.
Lot 3 — South West Wales (Estimated value: £25.436m)
Intervention Area of 36,166 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 17552 premises potentially available pending further information.
Back in May 2018 Julie James AM, Leader of the House and Chief Whip, issued an update on the progress of Phase 2 and pledged to “announce the successful bidders before the summer recess, with deployment work commencing as swiftly as possible after that.”
The summer recess has now begun and today a report by the BBC quotes Ms James as saying that their procurement process has been “complex with a number of unforeseen issues arising,” which she pledged to elaborate on in the coming weeks.
A Spokesperson for the Welsh Government said:
“While Superfast Cymru has successfully changed the digital landscape in Wales, we know there is more to do in reaching the remaining premises without access and we are now working on how to do this.
A tender process is under way for the successor scheme to Superfast Cymru, which will be underpinned by significant amounts of public funding, and further details will be provided in the autumn.
Work on the procurement exercise is complex and we will award contracts as quickly as the process allows. It is absolutely essential and right that time is taken on this so the full benefits from the successor scheme can be achieved.”
At the moment, here at Dyfed IT we are able to provide rural areas, such as Trecastle, Heol Senni and Ystradfellte with a superfast network that has speeds of up to 30Mbps via a wireless connection to one of our masts.
We are continuing to connect limited/slow broadband areas to ensure each household is equipped with a superfast connection; after all, a good broadband connection is considered a necessity in this day and age, and most people would struggle to do everyday tasks without it.
If you’re struggling to get a fast broadband connection with a national broadband supplier we may be able to help you out. If you’re worried about the cost of things you can apply for a grant from Access Broadband Cymru, which will then cover your installation cost.