To provide an update as requested.
Cath Fallon presented the report and answered the members’ questions with Cabinet Member Paul Griffiths.
A number of households still feel that they aren’t getting broadband any time soon. It would be very helpful if members could know the places in each ward where broadband isn’t set up, so that they can work proactively with officers.
In 3.20, there is a link to when and where we are building, which would give members the information on where Openreach full fibre is going. It is rarely that straightforward, however, so we have weekly meetings with Broadway for specific projects and can ask them to provide us with their rollout plans. So, if communities aren’t being served as desired then we can get the update and start to create relationships with the engineers working in that area. Members can therefore check using the link or email the officer, who can then put members in touch with the provider.
Is there the same way to see the Broadway data as there is to see Openreach? Do they have a link?
We will provide members with the information for the Community Liaison point person for Broadway Partners, as such dialogue is more fruitful and direct than exploring website data.
There is a concern about how robust the plans are e.g. there is a resident who doesn’t have full fibre because BT ran out just before her house. BT won’t commit to addressing the problem so the resident can’t get support for additional connection means and has been in that position for years. Will the figures for the county as a whole mean that some residents will still be in limbo in this way?
For this particular property, please contact the officers with the specific information and we will enquire with BT directly.
Rural residents are the key concern. How can we ensure, specifically, that the most deprived areas – in terms of connectivity – are the ones that get priority for new connections, especially as the same areas tend to suffer from black spots in mobile coverage?
We agree about focussing on digitally deprived/more rural areas. Because of that, we have been a testbed for a 5G project that has just concluded, looking at Raglan Castle and school and a farming environment. We are therefore at the forefront when there is an opportunity to be a testbed for alternative technologies, working very closely with Welsh Government. We are also aware that it is not always possible to get fibre to the cabinet in rural areas, due to the landscape – this is why we work with Broadway, as they use alternative technologies such as wireless, in which there is a connection to the cabinet but then beamed from mast to mast, or ‘White Space’, in which they use the old analogue TV signals for delivery, among others. We can’t know where the difficulties are on a property-by-property basis, which is why we need to work together with members to solve these issues.
The report on the investment in Broadway came to Governance & Audit Committee, at which we were told that priorities have shifted, and our partnership vehicle with them is now unlikely to feature as a major part of their plans going forward?
We will pick this up and reply to the Councillor outside the meeting.
There are problems with BT charging individual premises for infrastructure – with a particular recent case as an example.
In this particular instance there was no problem with the connection to the property but there was a problem on site, to which we are seeking solutions, which resulted in excess charges.
Ogi provides fibre to premises but it is dependent on them being the internet provider, so there is a lack of competition with other providers. Is there a way to overcome BT Openreach’s monopoly?
Where Openreach runs the ducting it has to be open to any broadband provider because much of it is publicly funded. Where there is significant private investment into companies like Ogi or Broadway it is their ducting, and those private companies own the network. It is a very complex area.
Cabinet Member Paul Griffiths thanked the officers for creating a record of significant improvement in the county over the years, and thanked the members for their questions and bringing to attention where there are gaps and areas for improvement.
Cath Fallon will provide members with the information for the Community Liaison point person for Broadway Partners – ACTION
Ian Chandler will provide Cath Fallon with specific information about the resident he spoke of, and their problem, and she will investigate the matter – ACTION
Cath Fallon will pick up Councillor Chandler’s query about investment in Broadway Partners and reply outside the meeting – ACTION