Elin Jones, Assembly member for the Welsh county of Ceredigion has levelled criticism at Openreach for apparently failing to finish a fibre broadband installation the village of Oakford.
Ms Jones spoke with the BBC and claimed that BT, as the owners of Openreach “brought the fibre infrastructure into the middle of the village and yet it hasn’t made the final links into properties.
She went on: “BT has left the job unfinished. Now that the funding from the public purse has come to an end BT has walked away. BT should not be doing that. They have promised in writing that people… would be linked into the superfast infrastructure.”
There has been photo evidence to corroborate this version of events and confirm that the service provider has left fibre cables dangling from telegraph masts in what is clearly a job half done.
A spokesperson for Openreach responded to the claims, saying:
“Since the start of the Superfast Cymru we have always been clear that the programme would not reach every premises, and some areas that were in the original plan have unfortunately dropped out because of the time and the complexity involved in reaching them.
We understand the frustration of Derwen Gam [Oakford] residents who currently cannot access fibre broadband but the Welsh Government is already planning the next stage of extending the reach of fast, reliable broadband even further across Wales.”
This is not the first time that this kind of thing has happened. There have been numerous instances of government funded fibre installations being halted midway through a project. Often it is because the cost is seen to be far higher than anticipated, this can be brought about by instances where cable ducts are obstructed or issues with power access.
The Welsh government currently is in contract with Openreach, but this contract doesn’t cover nationwide access to high speed fibre optic internet. The original plan was to make it accessible to around 95% of the population which equates to 690,000 premises by the end of 2017. The reality isn’t far from the intended amount of coverage with approximately 93-94% of properties currently connected to speeds of 30Mbps+. This does however mean that there are invariably going to be some areas where fibre is not installed, meaning certain communities must wait it out or make do. The Welsh Openreach rollout is also understood to have run into difficulties when trying to make installations in some of the more remote and rural areas namely due to difficulties negotiating with land owners.
The Welsh government have, however, promised that every property in the country will be fibre connected by the year 2020 and are currently searching for ISP’s who can deliver. The difficulties will be that the last few communities to be connected will be the most remote and as a result disproportionately expensive which may cause further issues down the line