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Superfast Cymru brings next-gen broadband to 346,000 customers

BT has inched over the halfway mark for the Superfast Cymru project which aims to overhaul Wales’s broadband connections. 

The public-private scheme aims to make sure 96 per cent of properties in Wales can access superfast broadband by the end of Spring 2016. Alongside places that can already get a broadband service delivering 24Mbps or faster, Superfast Cymru will bring superfast services in reach of 691,000 premises in order to hit that target. 

Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Julie James said: “There will be no let up in the pace of rollout as we continue towards the end of Spring 2016.  By September this year, work will be underway in every exchange area in Wales.  

Around 276,000 of the premises to be covered by Superfast Cymru are promised speeds of 100Mbps+“Every day more and more premises have the option to access superfast broadband and as geographical and other challenges continue to be resolved, more and more areas will join the many who already have access.” 

While the great majority of places will get an improvement in download speeds, it’s a little unclear as to who is getting what. 

Most places will be able to access top download speeds of 80Mbps from BT’s FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) lines. But due to the technical limitations of this technology, you’ll only be in with a shot of getting this sort of speed if you live within spitting distance of green street cabinet. As with ADSL, speed is dictated by proximity – in this case, street cabinets rather than the telephone exchange. 

The Welsh Government says that the majority of places will be actually be able to access broadband download speeds in excess of 30Mbps by 2016. It’s unclear how many of those will be getting less than this. 

Around 276,000 of the 691,000 to be passed by Superfast Cymru are promised download speeds of above 100Mbps, which presumably means places like like Dinas Mawddwy where BT has set up FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) lines capable of delivering top speeds of 330Mbps. As there’s no copper last mile with an FTTP connection, speeds aren’t determined by geography in the same way as they would be with FTTC. 

As for the remaining 4 per cent of Wales not covered by Superfast Cymru, the Welsh Government recently announced a Superfast Infill Project to bridge the gap. This two-stage scheme will first focus on delivering superfast broadband to businesses and then homes across north and south Wales. 

The government is inviting companies to bid for the contract and is stumping up £12.11 million for the project. 

The Superfast Infill Project aims to cover premises across Anglesey and north west Wales, St. Asaph, Llandudno and central north Wales, Wrexham (including Wrexham Industrial Estate), Deeside, north east Wales, Newport, Gwent and surrounding areas, Cardiff and the south Wales valleys, Swansea and south west Wales. 

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