Vale of Glamorgan community pull together for ultrafast broadband
- Largest full-fibre Community Fibre Partnership deal of its kind in Wales
- Local tractor dealership and leading heart surgeon among those set to benefit from some of the fastest and most reliable broadband speeds available in Europe
A partnership between local residents and Openreach is to make high-speed fibre broadband available to a rural community in the Vale of Glamorgan.
Llancarfan, situated between Barry and Cowbridge in the heart of the Vale, will soon be able to enjoy some of the fastest and most reliable broadband speeds in Europe as a result of Openreach’s Community Fibre Partnership (CFP).
The scheme is designed to help people in places not included in any current roll-out plans to bring fibre broadband to their local area, working with Openreach to co-fund the installation.
The cost of the Llancarfan CFP will be covered by a combination of investment from Openreach and the residents themselves who were able to access Welsh Government Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) vouchers.
The benefits of the new ultrafast broadband infrastructure will be enjoyed by all 129 properties in Llancarfan – ranging from a local tractor distributor to a leading Welsh heart surgeon – which will make it the largest full-fibre Community Fibre Partnership of its kind in Wales.
Dr David Smith is a consultant cardiologist who lives in Llancarfan and practises at Morriston Hospital. Dr Smith says that having ultrafast broadband fed directly to his home will be a game changer for the way he works.
Dr Smith explains: “As a medical professional, ultrafast broadband will facilitate my work enormously.
“Modern medicine is dominated by diagnostic imaging be it ultrasound, computerised tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These complex images, which are large digital files, are used not only in diagnosis but in planning treatment.
“In my work as a heart specialist, the arrival of ultrafast broadband will allow me to review cases and plan individual treatment strategies in my own home which I am currently unable to do. This pre-procedural review will improve efficiency and therefore be of benefit in improving patient care.”
Thoughts of having to relocate his local tractor dealership due to poor connectivity have now been put aside by David Evans who runs Llancarfan based – DEAL Tractors.
With ultrafast broadband now on its way David explains how difficult it has been to run his business with poor connectivity: "With e-commerce being ‘the norm’ it is imperative that a rurally based business like ourselves has access to the fast internet connectivity that urban areas benefit from.
“It is impossible to perform even the most basic of tasks like downloading software upgrades, internet banking, marketing and social media and there have been times when only one member of staff has been able to be active on the internet at one time due to the speed.
“We are simply unable to function properly as a business without it and in order to continue to thrive and grow it is simply an essential business tool and most certainly not a luxury.”
Welcoming the announcement Martyn Hughes, Chairman of Llancarfan Community Council, said: “We’re incredibly excited about finally securing ultrafast broadband for Llancarfan and the surrounding community. The delivery of this project will see the entire village connected – including more than 25 businesses and a large number of people who work from home. It will without question digitally transform every aspect of our lives.
“It will enable an elderly resident to have video calls with her family in Australia, allow children and students to access educational material online at home, farmers to conduct their business, much of which is internet based, and of course allow access to many other online streaming services enjoyed by most residential households elsewhere.
“I would encourage all communities across Wales who are struggling to access an acceptable or cost effective broadband service to investigate the options an Openreach Community Fibre Partnership like ours can offer. For us as a Community Council, leveraging the 'Access Broadband Cymru' grant from the Welsh Government and engaging with the Openreach CFP team became an incredibly straightforward and expedient process. The key to the success of this has been the strength and support from the local community."
Connie Dixon, Openreach Partnership Director for Wales, said: “It’s great that we’ve been able to work with Martyn and the Llancarfan community to find a broadband solution that works for them.
“Partnerships like this help us bring high-speed connections to those areas that broadband providers, for a variety of reasons, struggle to upgrade alone.
“Independent data shows that nearly 95 per cent of Wales can already access superfast speeds today, and we’re committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible. We will continue to work with communities, such as Llancarfan, that are not covered by any private or public funded fibre broadband rollout plans.”
Secretary of State for Wales and Vale of Glamorgan MP, Alun Cairns, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that Llancarfan will soon have access to fast broadband, it’s great news that we have been looking forward to for some time.”
“I want to pay tribute to the members of the community who have worked hard to achieve this, including Martyn Hughes. The world today is connected through the internet, which is why I have also been doing all I can to improve broadband across the Vale. Ultrafast broadband plays an essential role in supporting our economy by attracting investment and providing the platform for local businesses to grow. In Llancarfan I’ve spoken to independent businesses and professionals that need access to reliable and high speed internet. This will be transformative for them and for residents.”
Welsh Government Deputy Economy Minister, Lee Waters, said: “We are looking at a number of ways to bring faster broadband to the remaining premises in Wales which do not have access. I’m pleased to see the community of Llancarfan was able to use our Access Broadband Cymru grants which provide support for residential and business premises. We have also recently announced the UK’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme is to be given a boost in Wales thanks to a new partnership between the Welsh and UK Governments, with the Welsh Government topping up the scheme. Businesses and communities can now apply for the funding to get gigabit speeds.”
The deal is expected to see the first properties get the ultrafast service in March next year. Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) technology will make broadband speeds of up to one gigabit per second (Gbps) available which is around 22 times the UK average speed  and enough to stream 200 HD Netflix movies simultaneously .
Openreach’s UK-wide Community Fibre Partnership programme is bringing fibre broadband to some of the UK’s most challenging areas.More than 800 communities have already signed up to the programme including many across Wales.
Once Openreach has installed the infrastructure, residents can place an order for the new faster services with a provider of their choice.
For more information on community fibre partnerships with Openreach visit www.communityfibre.bt.com