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Welsh Broadband: Superfast Cymru, eXwavia and more

What’s going on with Welsh broadband and Superfast Cymru?

Latest news about Welsh BroadbandWales is set to benefit from a huge investment of cash from BDUK (Broadband Development for the UK) which will bring faster broadband speeds to 96 per cent of the country.

This work – called Superfast Cymru – is being carried out by BT, which has already committed to improving broadband in 50 per cent of Wales as part of its own £2.5 billion investment plan.

BT has started upgrading exchanges and street cabinets in Wales, bringing faster speeds to parts of Blackwood, Caldicot, Cardiff, Gresford, Pontycymmer, Swansea, Torfaen and Wrexham amongst others, and plans to have completed rollout to the 96 per cent by 2015.

Welsh Broadband: Superfast Cymru, eXwavia and more

It’s not just BT that’s bringing broadband to Wales however. Wireless broadband ISPs such as eXwavia and TFL Group are bringing broadband speeds to areas where they weren’t previously available and fibre broadband won’t reach in the immediate future.

ISPs, community projects and individuals in Wales have been able to apply for funding through the BSS (Broadband Support Scheme), a £2 million pot of cash used specifically for funding broadband development in broadband not-spots.

Funding up to a maximum of £1,000 per individual premises could be granted depending on the number of homes an ISP or community project aims to connect, but the fund has now been closed.

The 4 per cent not covered by BT’s rollout plan works out at roughly 90,000 homes will likelly be covered by alternative technologies like satellite and wireless broadband, according to The Welsh Affairs Select Committee.

We’ll be charting the development of broadband in Wales here as well as tagging any Welsh-related broadband stories.

Latest news about Welsh Broadband

‘Superfarce Cymru’ site points to a lack of fibre in Government plans

A ‘Superfarce Cymru’ site has appeared, satirising the Welsh government’s own Superfast Cymru site.

The site, which apes the look and language of the real site, criticises plans to get 96 per cent of the country connected to superfast broadband by 2015.

Superfarce Cymru points to past endeavours such as RIBS (Regional Innovative Broadband Support) as well as the decision not to make use of the Fibrespeed cable line, which runs throughout north Wales and forms part of the Sea Fibre Network’s CeltixConnect line.

Welsh Broadband: ‘Superfarce Cymru’ site points to a lack of fibre in Government plans
The Farce and The Furious

The protest site is the work of Wispa Limited, which launched the popular ‘up to prices for up to speeds’ campaign last year. Wispa’s chief Richard Brown told us that the site was created to highlight “hypocrisy in the Welsh Government statements to press,” who “seem to think that if enough positive press releases are reprinted by journalists that somehow ‘it’ll come right in the end’.”

Brown says that FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) broadband will be “irrelevant in most of the rural locations,” and that the percentage of those missing out will be bigger than what’s predicted.

“For example, at home I am 2.6km away from my nearest cabinet.  Regardless of the capacity that is installed there, my speeds won’t change much. To fibre to me and my three neighbours would be disproportionately expensive and so won’t get done… It seems that there are way too many examples of this to be only four per cent of the population.”

Last September the Welsh Affairs Select Committee raised concerns that over 90,000 homes in Wales will miss out on getting any kind of broadband at all due to their ‘difficult to reach’ status.

Elsewhere there’s criticism over the choice not to use the Fibrespeed line, which runs through Anglesey or an unlit piece of Fibrespeed cable in Pwllheli, Gwynedd – even though these areas will be among the first areas of Wales to see BT upgrades.

It’s early days yet with the Superfast Cymru project only starting to take its first baby steps. Time will tell, and of course if we have another round of floods on par with what we saw in 2012, it could be even later until the work is finished.

We’ve contacted the Welsh Government about the site and we’re waiting to hear back.

January 30, 2013

14 areas to get superfast BT broadband from this year

The Welsh government has named the 14 councils first in line to get fibre broadband from BT in the £425m Superfast Cymru programme.

They are Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Isle of Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Swansea and Vale of Glamorgan.

BT has already started work on this year’s candidates, while the rest of the country will receive its fibre broadband upgrade in 2014-2015.

14 areas to get superfast BT broadband from this year
There’s speedy for you

Welsh business minister Edwina Hart said: “The Superfast Cymru programme is set to transform the broadband landscape in Wales and to promote economic growth and sustainable jobs in Wales. 

“It will ensure we are at the forefront of the global digital economy and help to champion Wales as a great place to live, work, invest and visit.

“BT had already made considerable progress to prepare for the programme, including engagement with planning and highways authorities across Wales. 

“A roll-out plan has been prepared which takes into account the local demographics and cartography of Wales, together with the Welsh Government’s economic priorities, including the Enterprise Zones and the Powys local growth zone.”

The announcement followed the UK goverment granting state aid approval, so Wales can access £80m of European Regional Development Fund cash.

The Welsh government said that, alongside private sector broadband, it expects 96 per cent of Welsh homes and businesses to have access to ‘world class’ broadband – but that will leave 90,000 rural Welsh homes in the slow lane.

January 21, 2013

£39 million spend on broadband for schools in Wales

Welsh Broadband: £39 million spend on broadband for schools in Wales​The Welsh Assembly have announced that £39 million will be spent on getting schools in Wales equipped with ‘faster, high-quality broadband services.’

The plan is, in the words of First Minister Carwyn Jones, to “ensure that, by 2014, primary and secondary schools in Wales will have access to safe and secure world-class broadband services needed to deliver a world-class digital education.”

Primary and special schools will be able to get £10,000 to spend on improving broadband access while secondary schools will get £20,000.

The new plan is launched in the wake of Hwb, a digital learning platform for students aged 3-19 in Wales. The grant scheme is designed to ensure that all schools in Wales will be able to access Hwb.

Education Minister, Leighton Andrews added: “Schools across Wales have told us of the difficulties they have experienced in accessing online resources due to varying degrees of broadband connectivity.

With more people living in the countryside in Wales than other parts of the UK, a cash injection for isolated schools is desperately needed. Last year we heard that eXwavia had provided a 100Mbps wireless broadband lifeline to Ysgol Llanrug School in Gwynedd.

January 15, 2013

100Mbps wireless broadband beamed to Gwynedd

Residents of Ysgol Llanrug and Brynrefail in Gwynedd can now benefit from broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps thanks to wireless ISP eXwavia.

Part of a community broadband scheme aimed at providing residents and local schoolchildren with a better broadband experience will now see learning able to take place at school and the home at any time of day.

St. Davids Cathedral gets 10Mbps wireless broadband

St. Davids, the UK’s smallest city, is one of the many broadband not-spots in Wales, owing to it being situated some 17 kilometers away from the nearest exchange.

The situation is so bad that even voice calls over the stretched lines are a big ask – so wireless broadband provider TFL Group has stepped in to bring broadband to the oddices and grounds of St. Davids Cathedral.

90,000 rural homes left out

BT’s plan to bring faster broadband to 96 per cent of Wales invaribly means that 4 per cent of homes will be left out – in real life terms this equates to more than 90,000 Welsh homes ineligible for any kind of superfast action under the current proposals.

BT: 96 per cent of Wales to get fibre by 2015

BT has been awarded a £425 million contract from the Welsh Assembly which will result in 96 per cent of the country getting faster broadband. The deal will see both FTTC and FTTP broadband rolled out to Welsh homes and businesses, with those capable of getting FTTC eventually able to upgrade to full FTTP once BT’s FTTP On Demand programme is ready.

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