BT (Openreach) has been chosen by the Welsh Government to rollout the final LOT 2 of their Phase 2 “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) contract.
At present, nearly 95% of premises in Wales can access broadband speeds of 30Mbps and above, delivered by commercial projects.
The LOT 2 project encompasses a funding amount of £9.256m, with the aim to rollout fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) and some fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) coverage to rural premises across East Wales; specifically Cardiff, Flintshire, Monmouthshire, Newport, Powys, Vale of Glamorgan and Wrexham.
With this amount of funding, it is anticipated that coverage of the FTTP network can be extended to around 10,000 to 15,000 extra premises.
BT had initially secured the contract for both LOT 1 and LOT 3 last year in October, but this would only use £13 million of the allocated public funding and deliver FTTP connections to only 16,000 extra premises by the end of March 2021.
Unfortunately, the available funding at the time was unlikely to provide fast broadband connections to all premises identified. However, it was suggested that additional funding may eventuate (once LOT 2 was confirmed) to address the need for further coverage.
Julie James AM said: “I want to see how much the final lot that’s left actually costs and then all the rest of it will be put into the community pot. So, we are determined to spend all the money on the table on fast broadband connection.”
The Welsh Government has been working hard to develop a new follow-on scheme to provide connection to the final 5% premises.
But this deal is unlikely to be the last rollout in Wales, although the high cost and complexity of delivering such rollouts may slow down the expansion.
Meanwhile, the UK Government has proposed changes to ensure FTTP is available to 100% of premises by 2033, and ensure commitment from landowners so that there are fewer hindrances.