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Superfast fibre rollout to be extended

More homes and businesses are set to benefit from the Welsh Government’s rollout of fast fibre broadband in partnership with Openreach.

The vast majority of homes and businesses in Wales – 95 per cent – already have access to superfast broadband, following the completion of Superfast Cymru.

As part of a package of measures to reach the remaining premises, the Welsh Government has an agreement with Openreach which will now increase from 26,000 premises to 39,000.The extension will be funded by £30m from the Welsh Government and European Union, with additional investment from Openreach.

The extension to the project will target local authority areas with less than 90 per cent superfast broadband coverage. This will help strike a better balance of coverage across the local authorities in Wales and provide more homes and businesses with access to some of the fastest, most reliable broadband available.

All of the premises will have Fibre to the Premises superfast broadband.

Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said: “The covid-19 outbreak has brought into sharp relief the importance of fast and reliable broadband.  While the vast majority of premises in Wales have access to superfast broadband, thanks to the earlier Welsh Government intervention through Superfast Cymru, we know we need to reach the final premises without access.

“The fibre rollout is part of a package of measures to do just that.  The 39,000 premises to benefit from this will have future-proofed fibre to the premises which provides some of the fastest broadband speeds possible.  The additional premises I’m announcing today are in areas where coverage is below 90 per cent, so we can make the biggest difference.

“Fibre rollout is not the solution for every premises without access to superfast broadband, which is why we have a number of other schemes including the Access Broadband Cymru scheme, the Local Broadband Fund and the Welsh top-up to the UK Government Rural Gigabit Voucher scheme.

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“While broadband is not devolved, we are determined to take action where we can to improve connectivity across all parts of Wales.”

Connie Dixon, Partnership Director for Openreach in Wales, said “We’re delighted to be able to build our next-generation full fibre network even further across rural Wales as a result of this extension.

“The Coronavirus lockdown has reminded everyone that having a decent broadband connection is more important than ever for both businesses and homes – no matter where you live or work.

“So we’re excited to be able to build on the success of our existing partnership with the Welsh Government.  Despite the impact of the pandemic, our key worker engineers have continued to build and maintain our network across Wales and have already connected more than 8,000 homes and businesses with full fibre all the way from the exchange to their property – bringing with it access to among the fastest and most reliable broadband connections in both the UK and Europe.”

Commenting on the extension of the rollout of superfast broadband to businesses by the Welsh Government, Heather Myers, CEO, South and Mid Wales Chamber of Commerce said:

“We are delighted to hear of the extension today (July 21) of the Welsh Government’s rollout of superfast broadband to businesses and homes in Wales, especially as it involves one of our key business associates, Openreach.

“This will enable over 30% more premises to have FTTP fast fibre connectivity and will push superfast coverage up to 97%. This announcement is a very positive step in making sure all Welsh businesses have the vital and reliable connectivity they need to operate efficiently.”

The project is scheduled to be completed by June 2022.

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