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First customers connected in Swansea trial of 'G.fast' ultrafast broadband

Press Release   •   Dec 08, 2015 20:23 GMT

Households and businesses in Swansea are among the first in the UK to experience ultrafast broadband with a trial of cutting-edge BT technology.

The new ‘G.fast’ technology, which is being pioneered by BT’s world famous research and development team, has already been shown to deliver download speeds up to 330 megabits per second (Mbps) – more than ten times the current UK average.

The new technical trial in Swansea focuses on how G.fast can be used to serve multiple dwelling units, such as apartment blocks and business centres, both of which present unique challenges.

Around 100 homes and businesses in the Swansea SA1 Waterfront and Maritime Quarter will benefit from the free technical trial for approximately 6 months. The trial is testing the technology, including speeds and customer experiences.

G.fast changes the way today’s broadband is transmitted, delivering ultrafast speeds that currently require fibre to be run all the way to the premises (FTTP). This is significant as it will enable Openreach, BT’s local network business, to make ultrafast broadband available to a much larger number of homes and businesses, and in a shorter time.

If trials like the one in Swansea prove successful - and if UK regulation continues to encourage investment - Openreach aims to start deploying G.fast in 2016/17 alongside its fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-to-the-premises services.

The company believes that G.fast will enable it to make speeds of a few hundred megabits per second available to millions of homes by 2020 and deliver up to 500Mbps to most of the UK within a decade as the technology is developed further.

Welcoming today’s announcement, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James, said: “Wales is already leading the way in terms of superfast broadband coverage and we welcome the fact that BT has selected Swansea to trial this next generation of broadband technology.

“We are already working with BT to roll-out superfast broadband to homes and businesses across Wales which will help support our economy. We want to stay ahead of the competition and so it’s good to see this continued investment and innovation in the industry. Ultrafast broadband could eventually deliver even more benefits to Wales – helping drive economic growth and create jobs.”

Sir Terry Matthews, chairman of the Swansea Bay City Region Board, added: “Events have moved at an astonishing speed since the G.fast technical trial was announced at the Swansea Bay City Region Innovation Summit in May.

“I am personally delighted at the number and range of business and residential consumers who will be able to experience the benefits of this technology. It will lay the foundations for the exploration of a fantastic range of next-generation services and applications.”

Among the first companies to take part in the trial are Technium 2 based, S8080: one of Wales’s largest website design agencies.  Peter Ward, Network Administrator of the agency, which specialises in large public sector projects, said: “We’re a company that rely heavily on fast, reliable connectivity to the internet in order to both upload and download large files to our clients.”

“Our first impression of G.fast is that it’s a technology that does exactly this and is much quicker than what we’ve used in the past.  It’s great news for Swansea that G.fast is being trialled here and I’d encourage other businesses in the area to take advantage of the opportunity to test this cutting-edge technology.” 

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet Member for enterprise, development and regeneration, said: “It’s hugely encouraging that this technical trial is taking place in Swansea.”

“It shows confidence in Swansea’s ambition to be a leading city of innovation and business that’s at the forefront of new technology.

“The technical trial will be a huge boost for residents and businesses that are participating and as it is rolled out in Swansea in future, this technology will help transform local businesses, improve the local economy and attract new investment and jobs.”

Kim Mears, managing director of infrastructure at Openreach, said: “The technical trial at Swansea underpins a number of commitments which we have made as a business around coverage and speed. 

“We continue to invest in network innovation, bringing this fantastic technology to serve complex multi-dwelling units and business premises. 

“The G.fast technology trial will help us in supporting the Government’s ambition of going beyond the UK’s 95 per cent target for fibre broadband whilst providing the speed which our customers want.”

Mike Galvin, who has been leading the technical trials of G.fast as BT’s managing director of service, strategy and operations, said: “This technical trial in Swansea builds on our work in the labs and on the largest customer trials of G.fast technology in the world in Gosforth and Huntingdon*.

“We will be testing ways of delivering ultrafast speeds to flats, apartments and business units, so the people of Swansea will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how this technology performs, and how we might deliver it to more of Wales and the UK over the coming years.

“We are also grateful to both the Welsh Government and Swansea Council, who are playing a key supportive role with the trial. 

“The people of Swansea are also playing an extremely important part in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of Wales and the UK over the coming years.”

The speeds  provided by this technology enables customers to stream live ultra-high-definition 4K video content to multiple devices at once, whilst simultaneously browsing the web, uploading videos and photos, or playing online games.

Residents and businesses in the Swansea Waterfront Prince of Wales Dock area on Kings Road and the Maritime Quarter area on Trawler Road wanting to take part in this technical trial should contact swanseaultrafast@bt.com

BT has pioneered research into G.fast technology since 2007 and been heavily involved in driving the creation of global industry standards in that time.

The G.fast trial in Swansea builds on the existing investment BT has made in fibre infrastructure in the city. Approximately 95 per cent of the Swansea local authority area already has access to fibre when both BT’s commercial and Superfast Cymru’s roll out are combined. 

For more information, please visit: www.ultrafast-openreach.co.uk