Wales laments slow broadband progress

Access issues delay superfast broadband rol lout in Wales

Plans to rollout superfast broadband to 96% of Welsh homes and businesses by the end of the year face delays over access issues. 

The infrastructure update is part of UK-wide plans to boost broadband speed in rural and underserved areas. 

The Welsh project, dubbed Superfast Cymru, hired BT with public funds to boost superfast broadband from less than 50% coverage to 96%. Most of those homes have been reached, but 40,000 have been hit by delays over over legal consent given to BT to access land - called way leaves - has held back the project, according to a BBC report.

"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 Alwen Williams told the broadcaster. 

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"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," he added. 

The complaints come alongside a pledge from the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) last week to work with broadband infrastructure firms to improve way-leave agreements to speed up rollouts, so long as the Government commits to boosting countryside broadband.

CLA senior business and economics adviser Charles Trotman called for better rural mobile and broadband coverage and for improved marketing so local residents are actually told when better connections arrive in their area. "If the government follows through on the commitment it is setting out, the CLA is prepared to work with the industry to negotiate an overarching wayleave agreement between landowners and infrastructure providers for access to deliver a network of underground fixed lines," he said. "Such a deal has the potential to dramatically advance broadband provision in rural areas."

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