Superfast Cymru ‘failed to deliver’, Welsh AMs say

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Superfast Cymru, a scheme aimed at connecting Welsh homes and businesses to superfast broadband, hasn’t delivered on its promises, Assembly Members say.

AM Russell George said: "It's undeniable that the Welsh Government have failed to deliver to ensure all residential businesses will have access to next generation broadband by 2015.

"We are well off providing universal access. Constituents keep asking me why the Welsh Government just can't let them know when they are getting on with it."

The programme's goal was to connect 655,000 premises - meaning 96% of the population would be covered - by June 2016. However, that deadline has been missed: 610,000 premises have been connected, with the next 40,000 set to be covered by June next year.

A number of AMs aren't pleased with the slower-than-expected progress, with Mohammad Asghar describing the delayed rollout as bringing "damaging consequences for people and the economy".

An estimate states that that means around 88% of Wales is currently covered - so, not as high as England's coverage (91.9%), but still better than that of Scotland (86.1%) and Northern Ireland (78.9%).

The best coverage in Wales is in Merthyr Tydfil, where 98.3% of premises can get superfast broadband. The lowest coverage in the country, meanwhile, is in Ceredigion (60.4%), Powys (65.7%), and Monmouthshire (68.9%).

So in other words, it's the same old story: people in rural areas are the ones missing out on high-speed broadband. It's no surprise that farming unions have raised concerns about the "widening digital divide" in rural Wales too.

Superfast Cymru expects to reach its target in the summer of next year. It'll then conduct an open market review to see which other areas need connecting, starting work on the next phase in 2018.

Source: BBC

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