Plans could get fast broadband to 96 percent of premises in Wales
The Welsh government has announced the first 14 areas to benefit from the Superfast Cymru project, intended to boost broadband speeds across Wales.
Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, the Isle of Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Porth Talbot, Newport, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and the Vale of Glamorgan will see broadband work carried out this year, with the project extending to all of Wales in 2014, said Business Minister Edwina Hart in a statement to Welsh Assembly Members.
BT starts work
BT has completed a planning phase and has now officially started work on the project, Hart said.
“A rollout 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,” Hart stated. “State aid approval has now been granted by the UK Government, allowing us to complete the Major Project Notification process to secure European Regional Development Fund structural funding worth £80 million.”
Funds amounting to a total of £425m are being contributed to the project by BT (£220m), the EU, the UK government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund (£59.9m) and the Welsh government (£58m), with BT’s contribution including money the company had already allocated to its commercial deployment of fibre-based broadband services.
Wales won BDUK funding last summer but at the time was still awaiting a green light from the European Commission, which had to decide whether the UK’s government-funded broadband plans broke competition rules.
The project aims to bring broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps to 96 percent of Welsh homes and businesses by the end of 2015. Ultra-fast broadband speeds of up to 330Mbps will also be available in certain areas where BT decides to lay its Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) infrastructure down.
BT believes there will be a big economic benefit for Wales, as it will create 50 jobs, 100 apprenticeships and offer 900 young people a week’s work experience in support of the roll out. It predicted another 320 existing jobs will also be protected as a result of the project.
Russell George, Assembly Member for Montgomery, said he has meetings scheduled with the National Assembly and with BT in the coming weeks to push for a more exact timescale for the rollout plans.
“This is an extremely important programme for rural mid Wales and I hope it will transform the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people in Powys,” he stated.
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