Wales is expected to get a multi-million pound boost from an initiative which sees local communities forming partnerships with Openreach to bring high-speed fibre broadband to rural homes and businesses.
An independent study published today estimates that Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnerships (CFP) programme will be worth £6 million to the region over the next 15 years.
The report, by Regeneris Consulting, highlights the huge business, residential and social benefits provided by the partnerships, which are calculated to be worth, on average, £800,000 to each community.
Across the UK more than 500 communities have already signed up to the CFP programme. They include Goetre Uchaf in Bangor, Castle Quarter in Cardiff and Nantgwynant near Beddgelert.
The CFP programme enables communities wanting faster speeds, but not included in any fibre broadband roll-out plans, to jointly fund an upgrade to fibre alongside Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network.
The ‘Impact of High-Speed Broadband for Communities’ report examines the economic impact of Community Fibre Partnerships on businesses and households over 15 years and the social benefits over seven and a half years.
For Welsh businesses, improvements in productivity, efficiency, flexible working, innovation and finding new markets and customers are expected to be worth more than £2.6 million; whilst households get economic and social benefits worth about £3.5 million.
The boost to the value of a residential property when fibre broadband is provided is highlighted. For the UK as a whole, it is estimated to account for £100 million of the £340 million economic boost expected to be generated by Community Fibre Partnerships nationwide.
Positive social benefits as a result of the CFP programme include better access to employment opportunities and on-line healthcare.
Ynyr Roberts, Openreach infrastructure delivery director for Wales, said: “The tremendous power of fibre broadband is made very clear in this report. It’s heartening to see the many benefits that these partnerships are giving to our communities in so many different ways. This technology is making a major contribution to the future success and prosperity of people across Wales.
“More than 1.3 million Welsh households and businesses now have access to superfast fibre broadband – but we recognise there is more to do. We are committed to making faster broadband as widely available as possible.”