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Written Statement - Next Generation Broadband for Wales

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Edwina Hart, Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science

On 22 June, I gave a commitment to provide a written update to Assembly Members on the progress made towards awarding a contract to ensure high speed broadband is available across Wales.

It is a Welsh Government commitment to deliver broadband to all households and businesses by 2015 through our Next Generation Broadband for Wales (NGBW) project.

The NGBW project covers the territory of each of the 22 local authorities in Wales. We are engaging with local authorities and key regional stakeholders to identify local and regional priorities that will inform the delivery of the project and lead to a national roll out plan.

The competitive process to secure a provider(s) to deliver this target began on 25 February 2011 with the publication of a Contract Notice in the Official Journal of the European Union. The deadline for the industry to respond to the advert indicating an interest in participating in the process was the end of March 2011.
We received a strong response from the industry to this advert and, in May, invited four bidders to take part in the competitive dialogue process. The process is ongoing. We are now nearing the end of initial discussions and aim to invite final bids in October.

We aim to select a preferred bidder by December 2011. Prior to contract award, State Aid clearance must be obtained from the European Commission.

We currently aim to award the contract by March 2012.

UK Government has allocated £56.9m towards next generation broadband roll out in Wales. This funding includes the £10m already announced by UK Government in February. We will now decide how to use the £56.9m to support the roll-out of broadband across the country. We will secure significant private sector investment towards this project as well as leveraging funding from the European Regional Development Fund.