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Written Statement - Update on the Superfast Cymru Programme

Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport

I would like to update Members on progress on the Superfast Cymru programme.  

On 22 February, I launched the first exchange and cabinet to ‘go live’ outside of commercial roll-out in Wales.  This new fibre broadband cabinet in Bangor will serve hundreds of homes and businesses in the area.  Further street cabinets are also now being installed in other parts of the city as the roll-out gathers pace.

Work is now underway, ahead of plan, in the first eight Welsh communities that will benefit from Superfast Cymru.  Around 32,000 businesses and homes in Bangor, Caernarfon, Dolgellau, Menai Bridge, Porthmadog, Pwllheli, Tredegar and Ebbw Vale will have access to the next generation technology, with the first customers already starting to place orders.

As Members are aware, this programme has been delayed by the challenges encountered by the UK Government in attaining European State Aid Approval for its National Broadband Scheme.  We have worked closely with our partner BT to minimise the impact of the delay of the Wales programme.  Current planning indicates that it is likely that there will be remaining deployment in 2016.  I am committed to continuing to minimise the impact on the programme, and to bring forward as many premises as possible.

I am pleased to confirm that a postcode checker facility will be available on the website from the end of March. This will initially enable citizens to check whether their home or business will be in scope in the first year of deployment to gain an estimated timing to receive the service.  This facility will continue to be updated as the roll-out progresses.

The delivery of the Superfast Cymru programme demonstrates the Welsh Government’s firm commitment to jobs, training, and growth.  BT will be recruiting 100 new apprentices as part of the programme. 18 new apprentices have now joined the company in north Wales, and 25 apprentices have been recruited in south Wales.  Further positions will be created across a range of technical, engineering and customer facing roles, and these will be recruited across Wales to meet the needs of the programme.