Wales politics

Superfast broadband: Rural residents 'left in the lurch'

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Residents of Powys promised superfast broadband have been "left in the lurch", a Conservative AM has said.

Russell George said Superfast Cymru, a publicly-funded rollout scheme which ended in December, was a "public communications disaster".

Llanelli's Labour AM Lee Waters warned of some groups being "left behind".

First Minister Carwyn Jones said the Welsh Government would "actively consider" how best to ensure more people can be connected.

BT Openreach had been carrying out the work to extend the reach of superfast broadband under a contract with funding from Europe and the Welsh and UK governments.

The company said in December that more than 700,000 properties had been connected under the scheme since it was launched in 2013.

Mr George, AM for Montgomeryshire, raised the issue of residents still not connected during First Minister's Questions on Tuesday.

"My constituents have been repeatedly promised fibre broadband only to be told that an upgrade will be delayed on several occasions," he said.

"Now they find they have been left in the lurch because Openreach has run out of time."

Image caption BT Openreach had been given public funds to extend superfast broadband across Wales

Mr Waters claimed some of his constituents in Bynea, Carmarthenshire, had been treated "appallingly" by Openreach, and called on the Welsh Government to make sure that "left behind groups" were now reached quickly.

Ynys Mon's Plaid Cymru AM Rhun ap Iorwerth said he only found out from a neighbour that the area where he lived had been connected but no-one had told him.

"This is very frustrating for people who have been waiting a long time," he said, citing a "terrible lack of communication" over the superfast broadband rollout programme.

The first minister admitted communication had not been adequate and that some structures had been left "half-finished" as a result of the Superfast Cymru project coming to an end in December.

"We are actively considering how best to ensure more people are connected by looking again at how we can help to connect many more communities beyond the end of the contract at the end of last year," Mr Jones said.

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