Wales is botching its £425m superfast broadband rollout, says former BT head

By Peter Gothard
09 Apr 2014 View Comments

The ex-head of BT Wales has criticised the country's £425m rollout of superfast broadband, arguing that, with only 19 per cent uptake in available areas, more marketing money should have been spent to encourage adoption.

John Davies, who also chairs the Welsh advisory committee for Ofcom, acknowledged that while there is "undoubtedly take-up" and "undoubtedly benefits" for superfast broadband in Wales, "if more is done on the stimulation side, can those benefits come through faster?"

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The Welsh government responded, via a statement, that the rollout process for "Superfast Cymru" is "at an early stage in the programme and the marketing activity", but that the programme is "where we would expect take-up to be at this stage".

But with uptake currently at 19 per cent, Davies argued that much more needs to be spent on marketing the scheme. To date only £300,000 of a total budget of £425m has been spent on promoting the service, which is currently available in Anglesey, Blaneau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Merthyr, Neath Porth Talbot, Newport, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Announced in January 2013 by Welsh business minister Edwina Hart, Superfast Cymry is intended to "transform the broadband landscape in Wales and to promote economic growth and sustainable jobs in Wales".

"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," said Hart.

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