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First communities in South Wales switched on to fibre broadband as Superfast Cymru roll-out gathers pace

Press Release   •   Aug 29, 2013 00:00 BST

More than 26,000 homes and businesses in Abertillery, Cwm, 

Ebbw Vale and Tredegar to benefit;
Another 7,000 to join them soon in Brynmawr and Blaina 

Four Blaenau Gwent towns have become the first communities in South Wales to be switched on to high speed fibre broadband as part of the Superfast Cymru roll-out.

Abertillery has just gone live, joining Cwm, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar. More than 17,000 homes and businesses are already able to access the technology and once the roll-out is completed, that number will rise to more than 26,000.

Brynmawr is also due to go live soon and Blaina will join them by the end of the year, ultimately providing high speed internet access to another 7,000 premises.

Superfast Cymru, a partnership between the Welsh Government and BT, aims to take fibre broadband the length and breadth of Wales, to areas not covered by the private sector’s commercial plans.

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology visited Blaenau Gwent to learn more about the roll-out, to meet engineers and some of the 74 apprentices already recruited as part of the Superfast Cymru progamme. Afterwards he said: “Superfast Cymru continues to make excellent progress in connecting Wales’ homes and businesses. I’m delighted that Blaenau Gwent is to become the first area in South Wales to experience the many benefits of improved connectivity.

“Blaenau Gwent is already home to the Welsh Government-led Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone, where we’re trying to provide the best possible conditions for businesses to succeed. Access to fast, reliable broadband will only further our efforts to help the wider business community, attracting all-important investment and opening the door to so many commercial opportunities.

“I’m also really pleased to see that BT is creating so many apprenticeship opportunities through Superfast Cymru. It was a pleasure to meet with the apprentices involved with the programme and hear how it is helping them gain a foothold in the rapidly expanding telecommunications industry.”

Ed Hunt, BT’s programme director for Superfast Cymru, added: “BT’s commercial roll-out has already given access to fibre broadband to more than 550,000 homes and businesses in Wales and this ambitious project is set to significantly boost those numbers.

“This announcement today is an important milestone for South Wales and Blaenau Gwent in particular and a real boost to homes and businesses in these valley towns. Fibre broadband can provide a multitude of opportunities for families to explore new horizons that will enrich their lives while it will enable businesses to grow and compete on a level playing field with competitors anywhere in the world.”

“Fibre broadband is making big inroads now in North Wales with Superfast Cymru but by the end of the year people living in Hirwaun, Mountain Ash, Ogmore Valley, Pentyrch and Rhiwderin will also be able to see the benefits of this big jump in internet speeds as fibre broadband reaches them.”

Engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, will have laid around 17,500 kilometres of optical fibre cable and installed around 3,000 new fibre broadband cabinets in streets the length and breadth of Wales by the time the project is completed.

Fibre broadband provides speeds many times faster than those previously available in these communities with ultra-fast broadband providing an even bigger improvement should businesses require it.

The high-speed network installed by Openreach will be available on an equal, wholesale basis to all companies providing broadband services to homes and businesses.
Further details of the programme, including areas in Wales that are part of the roll-out, are available on the Superfast Cymru website www.superfast-cymru.com.

ENDS

Notes to Editors
Super-fast fibre optic broadband can be delivered as “fibre to the cabinet” (FTTC) or “fibre to the premises” (FTTP). FTTC is where the fibre connection is from the exchange to the street side cabinet with the remainder of the connection being over copper. Superfast Cymru will provide the majority of business and residential premises with the capability of accessing broadband at speeds in excess of 30Mbps by 2016. This is in line with the EU's policy of widespread Superfast broadband access by 2020. The programme will also enable access to speeds of over 100Mbps in a significant number of areas of Wales.Further information about next generation broadband is available from www.bt.com/ngb

About the Welsh Government and Superfast Cymru
The Welsh Government is the devolved Government for Wales. We are working to help improve the lives of people in Wales and make our nation a better place in which to live and work.
The Welsh Government and BT are working in partnership on the 'Superfast Cymru' programme to develop a nationwide superfast broadband infrastructure.
Superfast Cymru will boost commercial roll-out and help Welsh Government achieve its target to deliver high speed fibre broadband to 96% of homes and businesses in Wales by 2016.
Superfast Cymru is set to transform the broadband landscape in Wales and to promote economic growth and sustainable jobs in Wales. We have estimated that up to 2,500 further full times jobs could be created throughout the Welsh economy over time. It will ensure we are at the forefront of the global digital economy and help to champion Wales as a great place to live, work, invest and visit.