Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee: 11th October 2018

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Superfast Broadband Provision

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. As requested, to provide an update on broadband in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Recommendation

  1. That the Committee considers the content of this report with regard to the Welsh Government Superfast Cymru Project.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.        To allow Members of the Committee to consider progress in the delivery of Superfast Broadband Project.

Background

  1. The Welsh Government Superfast Cymru project has sought to extend the availability of broadband infrastructure across Wales and aims to provide 690,000 premises in Wales with superfast broadband with download speeds of at least 30Mbps.  The most recent super-fast broadband roll out ended in December 2017.  The aim of the scheme was to provide 30mbps or higher broadband to premises across Wales.
  2. The number of premises in the Vale of Glamorgan which were due to gain access under this roll out was 18, 581.  The superfast project was successful in providing coverage to 86% of these. There were some difficulties in providing broadband to the remaining 14% due to unexpected issues such as land access and ownership.
  3. Take up of superfast broadband has been 49% in the Vale of Glamorgan, the highest of all areas in Wales.  Welsh Government is running a campaign to promote the availability further and the Council supports this through its marketing channels.
  4. Appendix 1 shows the percentage of properties with access to broadband based on postcode areas.  Overall, Barry, Penarth and Llantwit Major, Cowbridge and Dinas Powys have a very low percentage of buildings with poor access to high speed broadband.  The areas with poor access can be seen largely in Dyffryn, St. Lythans, Flemingston and Ogmore.
  5. Welsh Government is procuring further coverage of broadband infrastructure (which is capable of delivering download speeds of at least 30 Mbps) within Welsh postcodes and premises where this coverage is currently unavailable and there are no alternative solutions planned.  It is unknown at this time what areas of the Vale of Glamorgan are due to be included.
  6. The Council in conjunction with the Cardiff Capital Region is considering alternative solutions for broadband access.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. A range of alternative solutions to providing broadband are available which communities and businesses could be encouraged to access.
  2. The Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Challenge Fund is a Department of Culture Media and Sport scheme with the aim of using public buildings to increase the network of fibre.  Any public sector body can apply whilst joint bids are favoured.  The Council is applying alongside other neighbouring local authorities to have fibre installed into public buildings.  Not only does this benefit the public buildings, but it provides the opportunity to stimulate the market into spurring off the lines and increasing fibre networks within those areas.
  3. A voucher scheme which helps businesses (or clusters of businesses) buy gigabit capable connectivity is also available through LFFN.  Gigabit vouchers can be used by small businesses and the local communities surrounding them to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection.  Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme with a voucher worth £500 as part of a group project.  As vouchers are used in commercial market it is not considered state aid.
  4. The 5th Generation of mobile technology (5G) is due to be launched in 2019.  Run from fibre networks, it is anticipated to deliver a step change in ultrafast mobile connectivity that is able to support ever larger data requirements, as well as support wide-ranging uses such as autonomous vehicles; advanced manufacturing and robotics; augmented reality; smart agriculture; and smart homes and cities. The Council has submitted a bid to be part of the urban test bed (Barry and Penarth).  The rural application process is due to open in the near future.
  5. Access Broadband Cymru voucher scheme is available to homes and businesses. Either £400 or £800 is available, depending on the speed sought.  Communities or groups of businesses can pool their vouchers and apply together to bring broadband to an area. A quote is needed from an Internet Service Provider to determine the cost.
  6. The next round of the Rural Community Development Fund opened in May 2018. Communities which have not been provided with access to broadband can prepare bids.  There may be an option to combine funding where the value of vouchers in a community area do not cover the full cost of coverage.
  7. BT has been working with a number of communities to provide community fibre in areas which were not covered/ eligible under the previous roll out.  These are Flemingston, Dyffryn, Llangan, City/Llansannor, Sigingstone.
  8. Consideration could also be given to integrating fibre into any road infrastructure improvements as a priority, although this would need to be reflected in budget estimates.

Resource Implications

  1. There are no financial or resource implications as a direct result of this report.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no sustainability and climate change implications as a direct result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no legal implications as a direct result of this report. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications and a direct result of this report. 

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equal opportunity implications as a direct result of this report. 

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Well-being Outcome 2: An environmentally responsible and prosperous Vale - Objective 3: Promoting regeneration, economic growth and employment: the availability of good broadband connection speeds is important for regeneration, economic growth and employment.
  2. Digital Place Strategy C4: Digital place business opportunities.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is for information only.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. No consultation has been undertaken because the scheme covers much of the Vale rather than a specific Ward.

Background Papers

  1. Superfast broadband maps - Appendix 1.

Contact Officer

  1. Kaz van den Berg, Senior Rural Regeneration Officer, Economic Development

Officers Consulted

Legal - Committee Reports

Operational Manager, Regeneration

Head of Regeneration & Planning

Director, Environmental & Housing Services

Operational Manager, Accountancy

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director