FibreSpeed - North Wales fibre optic backbone

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FibreSpeed - North Wales fibre optic backbone

Post  MH on Sun 30 Nov 2008 - 0:57

There's some very welcome news today about the completion of a new fibre optic "backbone" across N Wales.

The scheme has seen 200 miles of optic fibre cable laid from Holyhead on Anglesey to Manchester. The £30m FibreSpeed initiative connects business parks and industrial estates between Caernarfon and Wrexham directly into the UK's main broadband link.

The project is planned as the first phase of long-term assembly government plans to make high speed data services available throughout Wales. It is being trumpeted as the first public-private scheme of its kind in the UK, with funding from both the assembly government and European grants. According to FibreSpeed, businesses that rely on moving huge amounts of data around the internet are currently paying six times as much as their counterparts in London and south-east England.

[BBC, 27 Nov 2008]
This is the map of the route, taken from the FibreSpeed site:



I particularly noted the part about it costing six times as much to move large volumes of data in N Wales as it does in SE England. One of the great advantages of the digital age should be that it makes it possible to work from anywhere. Evidently not.

To illustrate this, here is a story about the same scheme, from earlier this year:


In Caernarfon the cable, which is being laid now, will go to the mainly residential Victoria Dock area, nearly two miles from Cibyn industrial estate.

"I do not understand why the decision was taken to take this link to Victoria Dock," said Gwyn Williams, chief executive of television facilities providers Barcud Derwen, which employs 44 people. What it means is that things will get increasingly difficult as the world becomes more digitalised and more and more work is done online," he said.

Light entertainment television company Antena is also based at Cibyn. "We are desperate for something like this to provide high speed access," said Antena managing director Mike Griffiths.

Mr Griffiths said the lack of fast broadband was already having an effect on the company as the website for the popular Welsh-language children's television programme Uned 5 had to be based in London.

"As it is at the moment if the website was based in Caernarfon, and more than four or five people tried to access video at the same time, then that would kill it," he said.

BBC, 22 Mar 2008
I don't know how the Cibyn situation was resolved, but it does show that real jobs depend on the data transmission capacity available. Thus the need for schemes like this.

FibreSpeed is notable in that it is a Welsh Government initiative, and has been made possible by part funding from both the Welsh Government and the European Regional Development Fund. As such, it might provide a model for future development. I'd have thought there was just as much, if not more, need for something similar in South, West and Mid Wales.

£30m may sound like a lot of money, but it is only the equivalent of a couple of kilometres of motorway. A no brainer. So the question to ask is where are the schemes for the remainder of Wales? Can someone provide us with answers?

For some background information on the UK wide situation, the Broadband Stakeholder Group site is worth a look. The Pipe Dreams report in particular.
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MH

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