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Welsh rural communities celebrate broadband milestone

Press release   •   Jul 08, 2019 14:55 BST

Thousands of rural homes and businesses in Wales are looking forward to a faster future thanks to the arrival of high-speed broadband.

Openreach, the UK’s largest telephone and broadband network, is announcing that more than 100,000 premises across the UK are now part of its Community Fibre Partnership (CFP) scheme.

More than 5,000 properties are in Wales, and broadband champions from across the country – including Llancarfan and St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan – recently celebrated the milestone at the House of Commons.

Openreach’s CFP scheme involves the company splitting the cost of installing faster broadband with the local community. In many cases, the local contribution can be entirely covered by broadband vouchers, such as the Welsh Government’s ABC voucher scheme* or the UK Government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme.* In Wales, businesses and communities can also benefit from a more generous Gigabit Voucher scheme* following an agreement between the UK and Welsh Governments.

Among those communities across Wales that are either already benefiting from high-speed broadband connectivity or are in the process of being connected as a result of signing up to Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership scheme, include: Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan; Nantgwynant, Gwynedd; Pumpsaint, Carmarthenshire and Paradwys on Ynys Mon.

Connie Dixon, Openreach’s Partnership Director for Wales, said:

“The CFP scheme has been a huge success and there are many communities across Wales that are delighted to have fast broadband speeds, despite living in some of the most rural areas. It builds on the work we’re already doing ourselves, and in partnership with the Welsh Government across Wales.”

“Faster broadband is essential for everyday life. There are many advantages of faster speeds, for both home users and businesses, and I’d strongly urge everyone to check if they live in a fibre-enabled area, and if so, get in touch with their broadband provider to find out more about upgrading.

“If you’re one of the few still not in a plan, now’s the time to find out more about Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership programme and the opportunities it provides.”

Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Economy Lee Waters said:

“It’s good to see how the Welsh Government’s ABC Voucher scheme is helping communities, such as Llancarfan and Nant Gwynant, to access faster broadband. There is no single solution to reach the remaining premises in Wales without access to superfast broadband and the ABC voucher, enhanced Gigabit voucher scheme and a further rollout with Openreach are all part of a package of measures to do this.”

Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, said:

“The UK Government is on a mission to digitally connect the whole of Wales and speed up service for communities and businesses. The internet is an undeniable part of everyday life, and reliable access should be considered a right for all citizens."

“Openreach’s initiative in connecting rural parts of Wales to high-speed broadband is making a significant impact and I look forward to continued service improvements in all Welsh communities.”

Martyn Hughes, Chairman of Llancarfan Community Council, said

“We’re incredibly excited about finally securing ultrafast broadband for Llancarfan and the surrounding community.”

“I would encourage all communities across Wales who are struggling to access an acceptable or cost effective broadband service to investigate the options an Openreach Community Fibre Partnership like ours can offer. For us as a Community Council, leveraging the 'Access Broadband Cymru' grant from the Welsh Government and engaging with the Openreach CFP team became an incredibly straightforward and expedient process. The key to the success of this has been the strength and support from the local community."

Openreach is using a mix of technologies to deliver the CFP programme, but primarily the latest ultrafast fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology providing broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps. That’s enough bandwidth for a family of four to all stream ultra HD or 4k quality movies or TV simultaneously, without waiting or buffering.

Once Openreach has installed the infrastructure, residents can place an order for the new faster services with a provider of their choice. Openreach provides the telephone and broadband network used by the likes of Sky, BT and TalkTalk. So people are still able to choose from a range of broadband products and packages – they are not restricted to just one supplier.

Across the UK, more than 930 communities have now signed up to the CFP programme, which is available to communities not included in any current roll-out plans for high speed broadband or to those who have fibre broadband but want even faster speeds. Already more than 590 of those are now connected to fibre broadband.

A recent independent report estimates the scheme generates, on average, around £800,000 of benefits to each community. And that having fibre broadband available increases the value of the average property by around £1,700.[1]

Kim Mears, managing director of strategic infrastructure development for Openreach, said:

“There are many examples across Wales of how Openreach’s UK-wide Community Fibre Partnership programme is bringing fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas where broadband providers struggle to upgrade alone.”

“Our ambition is to ‘never say no’ to any community that wants fibre broadband connectivity – we’ll work with any community to find a way forward and we hope that this scheme will encourage even more communities to work with us.”

Openreach’s commitment to Wales extends far beyond making faster broadband available. More than 1,800 of our people live and work in Wales. Earlier this year, we also announced that the team is expanding even further with more than 200 new fibre engineers due to be recruited during the next 12 months.

The success of the Community Fibre Partnership scheme is a further boost for Wales, where nearly 95 per cent of homes and businesses can already access fibre broadband with speeds of 30Mbps and above.

[1]Carried out by Regeneris Consulting in Spring 2018 - https://communityfibre.openreach.co.uk/resources/

About Openreach

Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.

We’re 33,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, broadcasters, governments and businesses – large and small – to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in the UK can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 620 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, BT and Zen, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27.5m UK premises

Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £13 billion into our network and, at more than 173 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,314 times.

Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re on track to reach four million premises with this ‘full fibre’ technology by March 2021 and ultimately, we want to upgrade the majority of the UK if the conditions are right. We’re also hiring around 3,000 trainee engineers this year to help us build that network and deliver better service across the country.

Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed division of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visit openreach.co.uk