- Around 32,000 homes and businesses in Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Bangor, Caernarfon, Dolgellau, Menai Bridge, Porthmadog and Pwllheli will be first to benefit from partnership;
- 17,500kms of optical fibre cable and around 3,000 new fibre broadband cabinets will be installed in Wales over the lifetime of the project;
- 25 out of 100 new apprentices already appointed
Work has started in eight locations in Wales as part of the ambitious, multi million pound Superfast Cymru project set to make Wales a world leader in broadband communications, BT announced today.
Engineers have now begun planning and building the new high-speed fibre network in Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Bangor, Caernarfon, Dolgellau, Menai Bridge, Porthmadog and Pwllheli.
Around 32,000 homes and businesses in the communities will have access to the next generation technology once the roll-out is completed, with the first customers expected to be connected by the end of June.
The initiative, the largest partnership of its kind in the UK, will use public and private sector funds to deliver fibre broadband to parts of the country not covered by commercial plans. It will help the Welsh Government achieve its aim of reaching 96 per cent of Welsh homes and businesses.
The project will involve engineers working for BT’s local network business Openreach, laying 17,500 kilometres of optical fibre cable and installing around 3,000 new fibre broadband cabinets in streets the length and breadth of the country.
BT will create 100 apprenticeships, of which 25 have already been appointed by Openreach, and 50 new jobs. The project will also protect 320 existing jobs and the company will offer 900 weeks of work experience. Research by the Welsh Government has indicated that a further 2,500 full-time jobs could be created in the Welsh economy over time.
The project will ensure Wales has access to broadband speeds of up to 80Mbps1. Ultra-fast broadband speeds of up to 330Mbps1 will also be deployed in certain areas and made available ‘on demand’2 throughout the entire fibre footprint should Welsh businesses want to upgrade to even faster speeds.
The fibre broadband roll-out will continue in 14 unitary authorities during the 2013/14 financial year. They are Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Swansea and Vale of Glamorgan.
Ann Beynon, BT director for Wales, said: “This is an exciting day for Wales and the beginning of a journey that will see the communications landscape throughout Wales completely transformed.
“This ambitious project will boost the productivity of local businesses and help to attract a more diverse range of high-growth companies to the area. It will play a major role in creating a more prosperous Wales.”
Fibre broadband provides speeds that are many times faster than those available today with ultra-fast broadband providing an even bigger uplift should businesses require it. According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK broadband download speed is 9Mbps.
The high-speed network installed by Openreach will be available on an equal basis to all companies providing broadband services to homes and businesses.
This major investment is set to transform the broadband landscape in Wales and boost the Welsh economy and will be of particular benefit to the tens of thousands of local businesses scattered throughout the country.
It will also benefit those homes which receive speeds of less than 2Mbps. According to Ofcom, more than 20 per cent of Welsh homes currently receive such speeds but that number will fall to around two per cent when the roll-out is complete. The Welsh Government is developing plans to address any remaining premises, which will form the final phase of its commitment to making Wales a broadband leader.
Fibre broadband benefits include users being able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently.
Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using ‘cloud computing’ technology. There will be faster back-up of computer systems and wider use of high quality videoconferencing within businesses and between them and their customers.
More detailed information on the roll-out will also be available shortly at the new Superfast Cymru website: www.superfast-cymru.com