The Welsh Government has quietly released some additional coverage data on the scale of their Phase 2 broadband roll-out contract with BT (Openreach), which is expected to provide 26,000 premises with access to “fast reliable broadband” (mostly ultrafast FTTP) by March 2021 at a cost of nearly £22.5m.
At present almost 95% of premises in Wales should be able to access a 30Mbps+ capable “superfast broadband” connection (93%+ if using Ofcom’s late 2018 figure), although most of this has been delivered by commercial projects rather than Phase 1 (completed) of the publicly funded Superfast Cymru scheme. The latter was thus aimed at areas where commercial investment alone would have found too difficult or expensive to reach.
More recently the WG has also signed several new contracts with BT for a new Phase 2 scheme (here and here), which will predominantly be deploying Openreach’s Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) technology into the final 5% or so of poorly served remote rural areas.
The Phase 2 contracts agreed so far were split into three regional LOTS in order to better represent the different areas of Wales.
LOT 1 – North West Wales
Areas: Ceredigion; Conwy; Denbighshire; Gwynedd; Isle of Anglesey
Intervention Area of 23,355 NGA white premises [revised] has been identified with an additional 27,590 premises potentially available pending further info.
Contracted Supplier: BT (£6,583,064 – 5,740 premises out of 23,355)
LOT 2 – East Wales
Areas: Cardiff; Flintshire; Monmouthshire; Newport; Powys; Vale of Glamorgan; Wrexham
Intervention Area of 32,356 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 19,689 premises potentially available pending further info.
Contracted Supplier: BT (£9,256,012 – 10,098 premises out of 32,356)
LOT 3 – South West Wales
Areas: Blaenau Gwent; Bridgend; Caerphilly; Carmarthenshire; Merthyr Tydfil; Neath Port Talbot; Pembrokeshire; Rhondda Cynon Taf; Swansea; Torfaen
Intervention Area of 37,818 NGA white premises has been identified with an additional 15,900 premises potentially available pending further info.
Contracted Supplier: BT (£6,740,426 – 10,175 premises out of 37,818)
Since then Russell George AM has been trying to extract more information about the Phase 2 roll-out from the WG. For example, he recently called on the WG (here) to “publish details for each constituency, which state the number of white premises, indicating whether they include or exclude premises in Phase 2; the total number of premises that are included in Phase 2; and the number of premises classed as ‘Under Review.’”
In response the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport, Lee Waters AM, is understood to have said that the WG doesn’t hold details of premises by constituency. However Lee did release a list of premises by local authority that are to be included Phase 2, as well as the list of “white premises” (i.e. those eligible for public intervention) by local authority and those currently still “under review.”
At the time of writing the response doesn’t appear to have been uploaded into the public domain (yet) but nevertheless it has leaked into our inbox. One of our readers, Steve, has also been kind enough to combine the local authority breakdown with existing coverage data from Thinkbroadband’s independent database. We hope our readers will find the result to be useful.
|Local Authority||Current Superfast Coverage %||Phase 1 30Mbps (passed)||Phase 2 LOT 1, 2, 3||Remaining ‘White’ Premises||Remaining ‘Under Review’ Premises|
|Isle of Anglesey||92.3||32777||617||2281||3527|
|Vale of Glamorgan||96.6||16337||976||1379||2348|
|Neath Port Talbot||97.9||25527||638||1199||599|
|Rhondda Cynon Taf||98.5||52479||1592||2609||1057|
Take note that there’s a small discrepancy in the numbers because we haven’t included some tiny patches where the Phase 2 deployment will creep over into the borders of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, although this is so small as to be statistically insignificant. The above data is also tentative and still subject to change.
At this point we aren’t going to write another detailed update on the Phase 2 contracts as that would be to replicate points that have already been made before. Nevertheless it is worth noting that the 26K premises confirmed for Phase 2 remains well below the c.88,000 premises that the WG had hoped to reach. Likewise the public cost of £22.5m is only around a third of the £62m that was previously confirmed for Phase 2.
Clearly there’s a lot of money left over for a future community funding pot and extended voucher schemes, although we’re still waiting hear more details about how the WG will use this.