96% of Welsh homes and businesses will have fibre by 2016

The Welsh government’s revealed the next step of its Superfast Cymru fibre optic broadband roll-out project in partnership with telecoms titan BT will start soon. But what does it mean for the people of Wales?

Some good news for homes and businesses in Wales - upgrade work in every telephone exchange in the country, so fibre optic broadband can be delivered to more areas, will start by September 2015, the Welsh government has confirmed.

The Superfast Cymru project - a £425million partnership between the Welsh government and BT - aims to make superfast broadband available to 96% of homes and businesses in Wales by 2016. According to the authorities, the exchange upgrade means the project's on target.

Ann Beynon, BT's director for Wales explained: "This is big news for Wales as people will now know when work will start for every single telephone exchange in Wales.

"It's probably the biggest engineering programme Wales has seen in the last 10 years, with the potential to improve the lives of individuals, families and businesses across Wales."

Back in June, 58% of premises had access to superfast broadband in Wales. In comparison, the UK as a whole has 78% coverage, so Wales has been lagging behind a bit. However, it sounds like it's on track to catch up - although more rural areas could still be left unconnected.

The Superfast Cymru website tells you when your area will be connected, which should give you a general idea of when you can expect to get fibre - if your area's not already hooked up.

It's worth noting that your home or business won't automatically switch to fibre when it comes to your area - you'll have to switch to a superfast package.

Naturally, BT fibre - better known as BT Infinity - should be available to most premises, but since the likes of Sky, Plusnet, TalkTalk and EE share the same infrastructure, you'll likely have other options. If you do want to switch when fibre arrives, make sure you compare what's available so you can take advantage of any special offers and find the best deal.

That's if you do want to switch - there are questions over how strong uptake will be. A recent report by UK communications regulator Ofcom revealed the number of people signing up for superfast fibre optic broadband in Wales was lower than the rest of the UK.

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