Wales lands £425m for fibre broadband project
By Stewart Mitchell
Posted on 19 Jul 2012 at 16:05
Wales is set to receive some of the best broadband coverage in the UK following a £425m investment in the principality.
According to officials, Wales will be getting fibre broadband connections to 96% of homes and business - above the UK target of 90% of homes on at least 25Mbits/sec, with the remainder on at least 2Mbits/sec.
As with all other major broadband contracts awarded to date, BT will supply the infrastructure for the project, and will contribute some £220 million towards to the project.
The remaining funds will come from the Welsh Government (£58m), Broadband Delivery UK (£57m) and £90m from the European Regional Development Fund.
The priority now is for the government and BT to address the areas in Wales that currently receive no broadband or very slow speeds
According to a BT spokesperson, the investment will be split, with one third of its money going to commercial areas and two thirds being spent in areas covered by the government-funded projects to push broadband into rural areas where commercial projects are not deemed viable.
The scheme still needs to clear European regulators, but if successful would provide widespread fibre-to-the-cabinet connections with download speeds of up to 80Mbits/sec to the majority of Wales, where Ofcom figures show 20% of the population subsist on less than 2Mbits/sec.
Despite the investment, 2% of homes will remain below that threshold, which will disappoint campaigners, BT admitted. “The priority now is for the government and BT to address the areas in Wales that currently receive no broadband or very slow speeds,” said a spokesperson for the Country Land and Business Association. “The government must ensure that BT does not simply increase the speeds of the 15% who already have superfast broadband.”
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