Wales to miss 2016 superfast broadband target header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

Wales is set to miss a target set two years ago to have 96 per cent of homes and businesses able to access superfast broadband by spring 2016.

The Superfast Cymru scheme, backed by millions of pounds from the Welsh Assembly, the Westminster government and BT, has pumped millions of pounds into bringing connectivity to rural parts of the nation, but is still set to come up short, the Daily Post reports.

According to figures from independent service thinkbroadband, Wales currently has coverage of 87 per cent for superfast services - nine per cent down on its goal for the end of spring 2016.

However, the newspaper noted this is still a marked improvement on the 55 per cent recorded at the start of the project in 2014, and makes Wales the second-best connected part of the UK, behind England.

By comparison, the figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are 85 per cent and 79 per cent respectively, while 91.5 per cent of English premises have superfast broadband capability.

The lack of effective broadband can be particularly harmful to small businesses based in rural areas, with North Wales Development Manager at the Federation of Small Businesses Mark Learmond telling the Daily Post that 99 per cent of its members rate internet availability as highly important to their operations.

"Here in North Wales many small firms are making innovative use of better connectivity to deliver real savings, better productivity and new growth opportunities," he said. "However, some business owners remain frustrated with the quality of service they are getting and it is essential that business owners across North Wales have access to reliable broadband services."

Chair of the North Wales Chamber of Commerce Richard Thomas added it is "unacceptable" that the government cannot say how long it will be until superfast broadband is available at every premises. He added that at the very least, the Welsh government needs to publish a map of current coverage and the planned roll out, with timescales for areas not yet covered.