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Unused fibre could be tapped to supercharge Welsh broadband rollout

The Welsh Government’s superfast broadband plans could get a shot in the arm in the form of 320 kilometers of unused fibre optic cable. 

Superfast Cymru has tasked BT with bringing next-gen broadband connections to 96 per cent of Welsh homes and businesses. While the project has delivered superfast to 100,000 Welsh properties to date, it is not making use of the existing Fibrespeed network, located in north Wales. 

A second OMR (Open Market Review) has been called by the Welsh Government which could see this asset used, alongside Superfast Cymru, to connect the remaining Welsh not spots.  

Unused fibre could be tapped to supercharge Welsh broadband rollout
There’s fibre in them there hills: The Fibrespeed network could be used to extend superfast coverage in north Wales

As well as potentially bringing Fibrespeed into the fold, the second OMR will see if new property developments, not in existence when Superfast Cymru was drawn up, can old be connected to superfast broadband, if they don’t already have it. 

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology said that since since the initial market review for Superfast Cymru, additional ISPs using the Fibrespeed network have emerged and the case for a second review was clear. 

Skates said: “This will enable a comprehensive picture to be established of those areas not covered by existing or planned fast fibre roll-out either by Superfast Cymru or a private sector supplier.  The OMR report will also be subject to a month long public consultation.” 

The results of the review means the Welsh Government can consider further interventions to complement the Superfast Cymru rollout. 

The OMR began on 3 February and is being undertaken by specialist consultants Atkins.  ISPs will be asked to detail plans for the next 3 years to build infrastructure that will allow the availability of broadband services at a download speeds of 30Mbps or more. 

The market analysis phase of the new OMR is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2014.

Image: Fibrespeed/Flickr

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