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Written statement: Update on Broadband in Wales


The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the importance of broadband connectivity for homes and businesses across Wales whether that is for home learning, staying in touch with loved ones or working from home.

Members will know the work that we have carried out over recent years and the way this investment has transformed the digital landscape in Wales. They will also know there is still more work to do. Today I want to update Members on further developments

An Open Market Review (OMR) exercise was carried out in the latter half of last year.  This was a large data exercise, working with the telecommunications industry, to identify those properties that remain without access to at least superfast broadband or are not in any plans to receive it. The OMR found that there are around 79,000 properties (categorised as ‘white’ premises) that do not have access to superfast broadband and are not in any plans to be given access in the next three years. The data has now been published on our website and a breakdown of ‘white’ premises by local authority is attached to this statement.

We will continue to support those still not connected through our range of measures. Members will be aware that the Welsh Government has been providing a top-up to the UK Government led Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme to reflect the higher costs of providing full fibre connectivity in Wales. The scheme has now come to an end and has been replaced by the Rural Gigabit Connectivity project. I am pleased to inform you that we are again stepping in to provide additional Welsh Government resources to give Wales a generous package of measures not bettered anywhere in the UK. We will provide a Wales top-up for the new scheme of an additional £1,500 for residential properties and £3,500 for businesses. This will take the maximum available to premises in Wales £3,000 and £7,000 respectively. To help focus the funding on properties that need it most only ‘white’ premises will be eligible. The top-up funding will only be released when the UK funding ceilings are breached.

As clearly demonstrated in the findings of the OMR there remain homes and businesses in Wales that aren’t being served by the market. So we are using our funding to deliver new and innovative ways of connecting whole communities working with local government and social enterprises through our £10 million Local Broadband Fund, which I outlined in November last year. Work on the fund had been paused because resources both within the Welsh Government and local authorities have been redeployed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, however, the scheme is now underway.

The Access Broadband Cymru scheme continues to deliver connectivity solutions and my officials have worked to streamline the application process to make it easier and quicker.

I will continue to provide updates to Members.

Breakdown by local authority.

Local Authority

White

 

BLAENAU GWENT

1,354

 

BRIDGEND

2,403

 

CAERPHILLY COUNTY BOROUGH

2,017

 

CARDIFF

2,769

 

CARMARTHENSHIRE

9,480

 

CEREDIGION

5,246

 

CHESHIRE WEST AND CHESTER *

3

 

CONWY

3,295

 

DENBIGHSHIRE

4,509

 

FLINTSHIRE

2,970

 

GLOUCESTERSHIRE *

1

 

GWYNEDD

6,006

 

ISLE OF ANGLESEY

2,801

 

MERTHYR TYDFIL

805

 

MONMOUTHSHIRE

2,405

 

NEATH PORT TALBOT

1,650

 

NEWPORT

2,013

 

PEMBROKESHIRE

6,366

 

POWYS

10,701

 

RHONDDA CYNON TAFF

3,544

 

SHROPSHIRE *

5

 

SWANSEA

3,052

 

TORFAEN

1,071

 

VALE OF GLAMORGAN

1,857

 

WREXHAM

2,700

 

Total

79,023

 

* These premises are physically within Wales but are categorised by Address Base Premium as being associated with an English Local Authority.



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