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Written Statement - Access Broadband Cymru and Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher Schemes

Julie James, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology

The Superfast Cymru project continues to progress with over 530,000 homes and businesses now able to access fast fibre broadband as a result of the project.

Superfast Cymru and commercial roll-outs of fibre will mean that the vast majority of premises in Wales will be able to access superfast broadband. However, there will be a few per cent where it is not viable.

In my statement of 7 July I set out our plans for a new scheme. This scheme together with Superfast Cymru, our project to provide wireless broadband to 2000 premises on business parks and industrial estates, and the commercial roll-out, will make superfast speeds available to all homes and businesses across Wales.  

Today I am announcing a 2 year commitment to extend the Access Broadband Cymru scheme to all homes and businesses across Wales that cannot currently receive superfast connections. I am also pleased to open up the Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher scheme to all businesses wherever they are located in Wales.

Access Broadband Cymru will fund (or part-fund) the installation costs of new broadband connections for homes and businesses in Wales that deliver a step change in download speeds. There will be 2 levels of funding depending on the speed required, £400 for download speeds between 10 and 20Mbps and £800 for download speeds above 30Mbps. The scheme will be technology neutral using a range of technologies including satellite, wireless and 4G to deliver superfast speeds.

Internet connectivity is a key priority for all businesses from a sole trader to the largest multinational. For most SMEs superfast speeds will provide more than enough bandwidth for their business needs but some larger businesses will require far larger data capacity with guaranteed bandwidth and greater resilience. This can be delivered via various technologies such as fibre on demand, a high capacity wireless connection, or a dedicated Ethernet solution.

However, these connections can be considerably more costly than other options, and the upfront capital costs can be significant. This can be a real barrier for some businesses.  

The Ultrafast Connectivity Voucher scheme is now being opened up to businesses across Wales to help them meet the initial capital costs incurred in installing ultrafast broadband services. Previously it has only been available to those located in the Enterprise and Local Growth Zones. For the purpose of the scheme, Ultrafast is defined as greater than 100Mbps downstream, and greater than 30Mbps upstream.

The maximum grant available will be £10,000. It will provide 100 per cent funding for the first £3,000 and 50 per cent between £3,000 and £17,000. The business will be expected to match fund the remaining 50% and any further costs over £17,000.

Both schemes will operate from 4 January 2016 until March 2018 and are helping to make Wales one of the best connected countries in the world.

More information about the schemes including details of how to apply and the eligibility criteria will be available online in the New Year.