BT says access and digging permission are what’s stopping it from connecting another 400,000 premises in rural Wales
BT has blamed difficulties in obtaining access to land and acquiring permission to dig the trenches needed to deploy fibre cables for the perceived delays to the government assisted rollout of superfast broadband in Wales.
The Welsh government is targeting 96 percent superfast broadband coverage in the country by the end of 2017 and the chief vehicle for this is the £400 million Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK)-funded Superfast Cymru project. BT is the main contractor.
However Assembly Members have voiced frustration and local business owners say there has been a lack of information provided by BT.
One business told the BBC that it and a number of others had clubbed together to lease a dedicated line such was the urgent need for better broadband.
However, BT says work to connect 40,000 homes and businesses is being delayed by the aforementioned problems.
“Way-leaves have been – and continue to be – one of our most significant challenges – getting permissions to access the land that we need to access in order to lay the fibre cables,” BT Wales Director Ashley Williams is quoted as saying.
“At the moment we have around 40,000 homes and businesses that are held up because we have a complex discussion or negotiation going on with various parties about how to gain access to land or permissions to dig, road closures.”
Telecoms operators have long blamed red tape for hold ups in building broadband and mobile infrastructure and the hope is that reforms to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) will give them powers similar to those in the utilities sector.
Superfast Cymru has come under criticism from the Welsh Assembly after the original completion date of June 2016 was missed, with members claiming this would accelerate the digital divide between urban and rural areas in the country.
Last November, the Welsh government pledged £80 million in new funding to ensure “every property” in the country would be able to access “fast reliable broadband” by the turn of the decade. However as much as £20 million of this is potential EU funding, despite the fact the UK is set to leave following the vote for Brexit.
So far, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has connected more than 3.8 million homes and businesses across the UK to superfast broadband that would not otherwise be covered by commercial deployments.
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