Welsh government sets aside up to £80m for next stage Superfast scheme

Up to £80m is planned to be invested in the next superfast broadband scheme, to help ensure every property in Wales is able to access fast reliable broadband by 2020, Minister for Skills and Science Julie James has announced.

The scheme will be a successor to the  flagship Superfast Cymru project which has already brought high-speed broadband to nearly 614,000 premises in Wales and is forecast to deliver over 100,000 further premises before if closes in 2017.

Since 2012 the Welsh Government has invested over £162m of public funding in broadband infrastructure in Wales, and will invest a further £62m over the final year. An additional £12.9m from gain-share is also planned to be invested to extend the reach of Superfast Cymru next year.

In order to reach those few premises not reached by Superfast Cymru or commercial roll-out an Open Market review is due to take place in November to establish premises by premises where superfast broadband is available. This will then inform the next scheme with delivery beginning in January 2018.

The scheme will potentially be backed by £80m public funding including:

  • £20m committed in the recent Welsh Government budget over the next four years
  • £20m from European structural funds, subject to WEFO approval.
  • £37m from gain-share as a result of take-up of superfast broadband
  • £2m outstanding commitment from UK government towards new superfast broadband project.

This investment will, in turn, leverage private sector match funding to further extend broadband coverage to the hardest to reach premises across Wales by 2020.

Julie James said: “Superfast Cymru has been a great success, and the roll-out is far from over with more premises being connected every day. Nearly 614,000 premises now have access to high speed broadband as result of the project. To be clear, those premises would have no access at all without our intervention.

“We know there is more to do. And our commitment in our Programme for Government, Taking Wales Forward, is to offer fast reliable broadband to every property in Wales. That is why we are looking at investing up to £80m in the next stage to bring faster broadband to those final hard to reach areas.

“The funding package, once more, includes European funding. We are in the early stages of the application process, but remain confident that the funding will be available, subject to WEFO approval, as a result of the UK Treasury’s guarantee to honour EU bids approved prior to exit from the EU.

“The review taking place over the next few months will inform our next steps so that we can begin the next stage in January 2018.”

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