Superfast broadband held up by access problems, BT says

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Work to deliver access to superfast broadband to 40,000 homes and businesses is being delayed by the challenges of putting in fibre optic cables, BT has said.

The Welsh Government hopes to provide better internet to 96% of Welsh premises by the end of the year.

But BT said there were issues getting access to land or permission to dig in some areas.

The scheme is expected to cost more than £400m.

Superfast Cymru, which pooled Welsh and UK government money and EU funds, was set up because the commercial roll-out of superfast broadband only achieved 49% coverage.

It contracted BT to roll out the service but there are frustrations over "missed deadlines" and "broken promises".

Glyn Jones, of Pembrokeshire spring water company Princes Gate, said his firm had already been waiting 18 months and was running out of patience.

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Image caption Bt blames the delay on access to land to install fibre optic cables

"It's something that we've been longing for for some time," he told BBC Radio Wales' Eye on Wales programme.

"We've had meetings with BT… they seem to be full of promises as to when we'll have broadband.

"As a company we've given up waiting and we've leased our own superfast line. That will cost the businesses £1,000 a month between them.

"We can't have broadband hold us back as businesses."


BT Wales director Alwen Williams said the scale of the engineering challenges was "absolutely immense".

"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.

"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."

But Julie James, minister for skills and science, said the Welsh Government was "frustrated" with information given out by BT.

"I meet BT quarterly to discuss the progress of SFC and we have long and involved conversations there about exactly what information could be on the website," she said.

"In fact the government took over the website last summer, as a result of that, and we've improved the website dramatically so now it's a lot more accurate in terms of whether you're going to get it and when you're going to get it.

"Nobody wants to be at the end of the programme. But we have assured people that we will get to them."

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