Getting the valleys online superfast

  •  Deputy Minister for Skills & Technology underlines positive impact of superfast broadband speeds for Wales
    • Openreach CEO, Joe Garner visits South Wales to see the continued roll out superfast broadband

The future economic prosperity of the South Wales valleys is being supported by access to world class broadband speeds according to the Deputy Minister for Skills & Technology, Julie James.

When combined, approximately 80 per cent of premises in the Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Gwent local authority areas can now access superfast speeds as a result of the Superfast Cymru programme.

This means more than 86,000 homes and businesses across the South Wales valleys now have access to technology which can bring them internet speeds many times faster than was previously available. This figure leaps to in excess of 147,000 when combined with private commercial rollouts in the area.

Deputy Minister for Skills & Technology, Julie James, said: “Superfast Cymru is an ambitious and challenging programme which is delivering real results on the ground. Bringing fast fibre broadband to Merthyr, Blaenau Gwent and Rhondda Cynon Taf can make a real difference to those areas, and will be a boost for their future prosperity. It encourages digital inclusion and is a real asset for businesses which can help safeguard or create new jobs.

“The progress made so far not only in the Valleys but across the whole of Wales shows how we are on track to delivering superfast broadband to 96 per cent of the country by 2016, making Wales one of the most connected countries in the world.”

During his visit to see the deployment of superfast fibre across south Wales, Joe Garner, CEO of Openreach, BT’s local network business, said: “It is great to see first-hand how the high-speed fibre rollout is changing lives here in Wales.

“This is a huge engineering project that is being carried out in some of the most geographically challenging areas of the UK. Not one person in Merthyr or Blaenau Gwent could access superfast broadband last year. Now more than 50,000 premises have access in these two areas which will have a tremendously positive impact in helping the people and businesses in the region.

“I would like to thank the Welsh Government and the hundreds of Openreach engineers who are working incredibly hard to enable more areas of Wales reap the benefits of superfast broadband.”

When broken down by individual local authority area the superfast coverage area is:

  • Blaenau Gwent: 90 per cent
    • Merthyr Tydfil: 86 per cent
    • Rhondda Cynon Taf: 69 per cent (but when combined with BT’s commercial rollout the number of premises with access to fibre increases to 84 per cent)

Independent research carried out by Plymouth University and Buckman Associates that looked into the economic impact of Superfast Cornwall revealed that 83 per cent of businesses in the area were reporting that they were saving money and time as a result of faster broadband speeds.

Faster internet connectivity can help open up new ways of working for local businesses which may help cut costs that will support the continued growth of the Welsh economy.

Tredegar based online printing company, SonicPrint, recently started taking advantage of superfast broadband as soon as their street cabinet went live last month.

Pete Topping, Co-owner of SonicPrint, said: “The speed achieved by fibre is a game changer.”

“Before we had superfast broadband installed we were finding it increasingly difficult to compete in a national marketplace. We were constantly fighting against slow connection speeds making the transfer of large files a real headache.

“We are an online business. Being able to host our website ourselves, as opposed to paying for a costly data centre, is going to save us thousands of pounds in hosting and development costs.

“We have embraced a lot of the advantages that fibre has given our business including remote desktop working as well as cloud backup for our databases.”

According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK residential broadband download speed is 18.7Mbps. The average speed available in areas already served by the Superfast Cymru roll-out is more than three times this.

Superfast Cymru is a partnership between the Welsh Government and BT, with additional funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

£205m of funding has been provided by Welsh Government, the UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund, with BT contributing a further £220m to deliver fibre across Wales via its commercial roll out and the Superfast Cymru programme.


Notes to editors

When premises covered by superfast Cymru are combined with BT’s commercial roll-out, 147,000 premises across Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taf have access to high speed fibre broadband.
For information about which exchange areas are already enabled go to the coverage map on http://www.superfast-cymru.com/where-and-when

The latest images of the Superfast Cymru roll-out are available for download at:

About the Welsh Government and Superfast Cymru
The Welsh Government is the devolved Government for Wales. We are working to help improve the lives of people in Wales and make our nation a better place in which to live and work.
The Welsh Government and BT are working in partnership on the 'Superfast Cymru' programme to develop a nationwide superfast broadband infrastructure.
Superfast Cymru will boost commercial roll-out and help the Welsh Government achieve its target to deliver high speed fibre broadband to 96% of homes and businesses in Wales by 2016.
Superfast Cymru is set to transform the broadband landscape in Wales and to promote economic growth and sustainable jobs in Wales. We have estimated that up to 2,500 further full times jobs could be created throughout the Welsh economy over time. It will ensure we are at the forefront of the global digital economy and help to champion Wales as a great place to live, work, invest and visit.

About Superfast Britain
Superfast Britain is a UK Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk