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Calls for fair funding of broadband in Wales

26 Aug 2019 3 minute read
Broadband router. Picture by MediaDS

Plaid Cymru has today criticised investment by the UK Government in broadband infrastructure in Wales and launched a plan to eradicate broadband not-spots here by 2025.

Unveiling the initiative, Ceredigion MP, Ben Lake said that the current lack of connectivity is “restraining the rural economy in Wales, perhaps more than anything else”.

The Prime Minister’s broad brush plan to roll out full fibre broadband came under attack from telecoms companies when it was launched earlier in June for not providing any detail and for failing to address the hurdles to delivering full fibre broadband.

Not only has the UK Government failed, in practical terms, to outline how it will target hard-to-reach areas, it has also failed to outline where it would direct the money. In recent years, the UK Government has spent money to improve broadband infrastructure in three of the four UK nations, but not Wales. £150 million was handed to Northern Ireland to improve broadband connectivity as part of DUP-Conservative Government back-room deal. The UK Government found a further £10 million for full-fibre broadband in six trial areas across England and Scotland, but not rural Wales.

Plaid Cymru’s three-point-plan contains the following measures:

Cut the fibre tax – Fibre infrastructure currently has business rates applied to it, just like other commercial property. Plaid Cymru believes this discourages investment and should be rethought.

New builds fit-for-purpose – Too many new homes are still being developed without provision for fibre broadband. Plaid Cymru wants all new build homes to incorporate gigabit-capable internet connections.

Skills – A large number of engineers will be required to carry out all the work involved. Plaid Cymru would invest in training and skills for the industry to be able to meet the demand.

Lake, Plaid’s Westminster Digital spokesperson said: “Broadband, or rather the lack of it, is restraining the rural economy in Wales, perhaps more than anything else. My constituency of Ceredigion is among the 10 worst constituencies for broadband speeds.

“Wales has the perceived benefit of being able to receive investment from the Welsh Government and the UK Government, but so far both have failed to outline how broadband will be delivered to large parts of our country. In fact, Wales has lost out on crucial investment time after time.

“Why should essential utilities, such as adequate broadband, be dismissed as luxuries for those who live in the countryside? If we are to make rural areas of Wales more practical places for businesses to locate and expand, and if we are to ensure that communities can fully benefit from the opportunities afforded by better digital connectivity, investing in broadband is crucial.​”

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Clive King
Clive King
3 years ago

I have not been involved in this space since 2016, but the previous 4 years one of the largest problems for broadband rollout in Ceredigion was Ceredigion Council. I spoke to contractors to Openreach who would spend the night pulling the tube that takes the fiber through duct on the A487, run over by a few minutes due to a broken line or blocked duck and be fined close to a nights pay. I spoke to one contractor the day after that happened to him and he had told Openreach he was not working in Ceredigion again. The roll out… Read more »

Simon Gruffydd
Simon Gruffydd
3 years ago
Reply to  Clive King

To hell with Openreach or any other PPP (Public Private Partnership). Just like roads, schools, and banking, IT should be subsidised public infrastructure. That’s not rocket science. It’s the keys to a competitive and successful nation.

Simon Gruffydd
Simon Gruffydd
3 years ago

Listen my friends, when it comes to IT, we could be doing a LOT better. We could be enjoying a decentralised and private access to the Internet run by everyone in Wales with a computer. Those who served more than they took could receive checks in the mail from those who took more than they served. The centralised server model to whom we all pay belongs to the dinosaur age. The technology is all there and waiting. Only the political will and courage is lacking. (Fiber optics could deliver Internet speed equal if not surpassing on 5G ledled Cymru, no… Read more »

Jonathan Edwards
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Gruffydd

Interesting Simon. Got a bit of will and courage. What is the first step to get the ball rolling?

Nathan John
3 years ago

They must have to provide better services and the availability of internet access to the general public. It helps to make infrastructure stronger by giving access to the cheapest way of communication to the public.

George Pattrick
3 years ago

They must have to provide better speed for the users of wales so that they can use high-speed internet services.

Gareth Robinson
Gareth Robinson
3 years ago

Hi All, We have successfully deployed over 500 Superfast (30_ Mbps) connections to properties in Dyfed. This has been done using the Access Broadband Cymru voucher scheme. We are a small agile provider and we know with better access to funding we can deploy more and train more people to do this. Unfortunately as an “SME” business we are often over looked and the “belief” is that Openreach or someone else is just going to take the problem away. They are NOT! Help us to Help you by coming together as a community or a collective and together we can… Read more »

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