The Welsh Government and BT have forged a £425m deal to deploy superfast fibre broadband to 96 per cent of homes and businesses by 2015.
BT will invest approximately £220m in the rollout, the Welsh Government will be contributing £58m, with an additional £57m worth of funding coming from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the government body that is armed with distributing funds for fibre projects. Some £90m has also been secured via the European Regional Development Fund.
“This is an incredibly important agreement for Wales. Our partnership with BT will see to it that Wales does more than simply catch up with our neighbours: we intend to catch up, overtake and then set the pace that others will strive to match,” said Wales’ first minister, Carwyn Jones.
“It will ensure that firms remain in Wales and it will also attract a more diverse range of high growth, high value companies to the country across all our key sectors, from tourism to high-end manufacturing.”
He added: “We have leveraged over £6 for every £1 invested by the Welsh Government.”
Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) is going to be the primary technology used, which will provide speeds of up to 80Mbps to 96 per cent of the population.
Fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) will be deployed in certain areas, delivering speeds of up 330Mbps, but will also be available ‘on demand’ throughout the entire fibre footprint if businesses want to pay to upgrade the service.
According to Ofcom, more than 20 per cent of Welsh homes currently receive speeds of less than 2Mbps, which will be reduced to around two percent once the rollout is complete.
BT has also said that the contract allows it to create 50 new jobs and 100 new apprenticeships. Some 320 jobs will also be protected because of the project and the company will offer 900 young people a week’s work experience.
“Wales will become one of the best connected countries in the world and will be ahead of the chasing pack,” said Liv Garfield, chief executive of Openreach.