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Welsh Government broadband claims based on report that doesn't mention Wales

Monday, October 20th 2014 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The Welsh Government has claimed that Wales will be “one of the most highly connected countries in Europe” by spring 2016, however, this claim is based on a report that makes no mention of the principality.

Julie James, the deputy minister for skills and technology, said 96% of premises in Wales would be “able to access faster internet speeds” as she launched year three of the Superfast Cymru programme last week.

When asked for more detailed figures, a Welsh Government spokesperson referred us to a report by Analysys Mason called ‘International benchmark of superfast broadband’.

The report compares access to superfast broadband in the UK to what it calls ‘benchmark’ countries – France, Germany, Italy, Spain Sweden and the Netherlands within the EU, as well as Japan, South Korea and the USA.

It says overall coverage of superfast broadband in the UK is above most European countries and by 2018 is expected to be second only to the Netherlands.

“At the end of 2012, 70% of UK premises were passed by at least one superfast broadband network,” says the report.

“Only the Netherlands had greater coverage than the UK at that time. Moreover, the UK’s coverage was also significantly higher than the Western European average of 58%.

“Analysys Mason expects that by the end of 2018, 95% of UK premises will have access to superfast broadband, driven by BDUK’s rural broadband, taking account of the additional £250million of government funding to enable coverage to reach 95% of premises.”

The report also says the UK will have greater coverage than the USA and Japan by 2018.

The Welsh Government’s announcement came a week after BT Wales director Ann Beynon and Superfast Cymru programme director Ed Hunt attended a public meeting in Abergavenny organised by Monmouth MP David Davies.

Mr Davies said: “The large number of people who were there will certainly have served to remind BT just how seriously we all take this issue.

“BT clearly have a great deal more work to do in Monmouthshire and I intend to continue holding them to account through further meetings."

Mr Davies asked for information on telephone exchanges being upgraded at the meeting but was not satisfied with the answer he was given.

"While I note that more areas are going to have exchanges which are enabled, I am uncertain as to what percentage of those living there will have full broadband," he said.

"BT's spokesmen seemed to be implying that it would be 90 per cent across Wales but I did not feel the question had been fully answered.

"BT acknowledged there will be some people whose properties are so remote they won't ever be able to get broadband through a cable and these people affected have the right to know this as soon as possible so they can make other arrangements."

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “The International Benchmark for Superfast Broadband report which was produced for BT compares the UK’s superfast broadband coverage over the next few years with other European countries.

“While it shows figures for the UK, Wales is going further and faster with its Superfast Cymru programme reaching 96% by 2016.”

Superfast Cymru is a programme run by BT and the Welsh Government and is laying 17,500kms of optical fibre cable and installing around 3,000 new green roadside cabinets to bring superfast broadband to communities across Wales.

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