On 6 August, Ofcom, the independent authority for the UK communications industry, announced that Wales is ahead of Scotland and Northern Ireland when it comes to superfast fibre broadband rollout.
The report states that 79% of premises can now receive fibre broadband (up to 30 Mbps). As my current download speed is 7.07 Mbps on a good day, that would be wonderful! Though it’s better than the alternative standard BT Broadband I was offered as a consolation.
A look at the top ten countries for internet speed around the world shows South Korea at number one with an average of 22.2 Mbps, so anything approaching 30 Mbps sounds fairly good in comparison (as long as you ignore some UK companies who offer packages of 50Mb, 100Mb and even 152Mb!)
The Superfast Cymru vision calls for “all homes and businesses across Wales [to] have access to fast fibre broadband” and aims to supply this capability to 96% of premises by 2016. A look at the rollout map shows that Llandysul is definitely in the “Superfast Cymru Intervention Area” which is good news, and some areas of the town have been given fibre capability.
But 64% of us are still waiting for our cabinet to be converted with no indication of when that will be. The Superfast Cymru website lets you enter landline and postcode details to keep an eye on progress, but this is what I get when I enter my landline number:
And when I enter my postcode … above not below as the message says:
An online chat with an advisor from BT confirmed that not only do I not have fibre capability to my property yet, they can’t tell me when it’s likely, and I really don’t like the sound of 2019 as mentioned in the chat log below:
A total of 45,887 Welsh premises, however, have been identified as being “not in scope” to receive this provision and they will fall under the Superfast Cymru Infill Project to supply them with an alternative means to achieve fast speed internet connection. This project will take three years to complete and Phase One is yet to begin. Is that part of the plan to be completed by 2019?
The Ofcom report also looked at the situation with mobile phone coverage, given that increasing numbers of people are using their smartphone for internet access. This is especially popular where 4G services are available, but Wales has the lowest 4G coverage of any of the devolved nations.
In west Wales, ANY consistent coverage would be welcome. While urban areas boast close to 95% 4G connectivity, it is not uncommon for visitors to the west to find they have NO mobile phone signal – not 4G, not 3G, NOTHING! This is a huge disadvantage for businesses in the area and makes a joke of the Welsh government’s desire to see Wales as a digital nation.
If Wales is to go ahead as a modern country we need to ensure that people can stay living in rural areas, running their businesses online and competing in a digital world. We need to keep people living and working in small towns, provide exciting opportunities for young graduates to return to their communities, and boost the economic situation of rural Wales but we can’t do it with a broadband service that is slow and unreliable and a mobile phone service that’s a joke.