A number of big companies and landlords are preventing communities from accessing superfast broadband, a top Welsh Government official has claimed.
Simon Jones, the Welsh Government’s Director of Finance and Performance, Economy, Skills and Natural Resources, said the roll-out of the Superfast Cymru project was being held up by private landowners delaying or refusing to give permission for BT engineers to access sites.
In order to deliver the new scheme, engineers need to install some 3,000 cabinets across the country, requiring them to lay down hundreds of kilometres of copper cabling and fibre poles.
But Mr Jones claimed authorities are powerless to prevent access being denied by landowners.
He told the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee that the only option was to “name and shame” and lobby guilty organisations, which include big companies from the UK and overseas, as well as local residents.
“Other than lobbying and naming and shaming at the moment we probably don’t have a huge amount of weapons in our armoury there," he explained.
“There will be a limited number where we will have said the shutters are down on that one, therefore we can’t do those premises. We are constantly trying to find ways around that.”
Mr Jones added: “It’s an incredible challenge; this is the biggest of these contracts in the UK and it will be a significant achievement for the Welsh Government to have done this.”
Despite the setbacks, there are still hopes to deliver fast internet coverage to the majority of premises in Wales by the end of this year, with coverage currently standing at 79%.
Yesterday (July 8th) saw the announcement that an extra 42,000 premises were set to benefit from the next phase of the project, which will now run to 2017.