Welsh Government Offers £3M to Boost Business Broadband

The Welsh government issues tender for contracts to improve broadband coverage in the country.


By Steve McCaskill

The Welsh government is inviting communications firms to bid for between £1m and £3m worth of contracts to provide superfast broadband to areas not covered by the Superfast Cymru partnership with BT.

Superfast Cymru intends to connect 96 percent of the Welsh population, or 690,000 premises, with fiber by 2016 and is the largest public-private broadband partnership in the United Kingdom with £425 million in funding.

The tender issued by the Welsh government says it is unlikely that Superfast Cymru will deliver 100 percent coverage due to a number of "BT-reported issues in some locations."

Filling in the Gaps

These include the presence of legacy network architecture, which prevents the deployment of standard equipment and increases cost, as well as low revenue projections for areas such as business parks, which require more significant investment than residential areas.

"The Welsh Government accepts these issues are real," reads the tender.

BT says the project outlined by the Welsh government covers businesses premises only and that its rollout as part of Superfast Cymru is going to plan.

"Superfast Cymru is on track," a company spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. "It's successfully delivering superfast broadband across Wales and there is no question that BT will not deliver against its commitments."

Superfast Cymru on Track

"The Welsh Government aims to reach 96 percent superfast broadband coverage in Wales during 2016 by incorporating the Superfast Cymru programme, BT's commercial investment and investments by other providers."

Across the U.K, BDUK has so far connected more than two million homes and businesses to superfast broadband that would not otherwise have been covered by commercial deployments. Last November, Superfast Cymru connected the most remote location in Wales to the Openreach fiber network using 16 kilometres of overhead cable.

However, recent research suggests Welsh businesses are less than satisfied by their broadband than other parts of the United Kingdom. A survey of IT Decision Makers by fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) network provider CityFibre found that 65 percent of respondents felt their broadband was worse than England, Scotland or Northern Ireland while 23 percent felt it was equal to the other U.K. nations.