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Swansea Propose Better Broadband as Part of GBP500m City Deal

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 (10:58 am) - Score 741
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The city and county of Swansea (Wales) has today proposed a new £500m City Deal to the Government that could improve local health, business, energy and broadband services, not least by supporting a new transatlantic fibre optic cable with North America.

According to Cardiff University, the “Internet Coast” deal could result in additional economic output of £3.3bn and create another 33,000 jobs over the next 20 years. Such claims are not dissimilar to the ones that also accompanied last year’s City Deal for Aberdeen in Scotland (here), although we still have precious little information on the detail.

On the broadband front, which is of course what interests us the most, there’s also a lot of talk about delivering even faster Internet connectivity. Mind you Swansea is almost totally covered by both BT and Virgin Media’s respective hybrid-fibre broadband networks, so it’s already a lot better off than other parts of the UK.

On top of that BT are also trialling their next generation 300-500Mbps G.fast technology in the area (here). But whether or not this will have any impact upon the pro-broadband and mobile connectivity side of the argument is difficult to know.

Sir Terry Matthews, Chairman of Swansea Bay City Region, said (here)

“Think of the way the internet and broadband networks have transformed communications worldwide. Now imagine the same principle applied to future energy systems, to health and well-being and any number of other sectors.

It is a massive opportunity and with City Deal support we can take a lead position in Wales and make our wider contribution to the UK and to Europe. Swansea Bay became world famous in ‘the first machine age’. We aim to re-energise a vibrant and pioneering role in Wales and the UK as the world now enters ‘a new digital machine age’.

There are echoes of the Industrial Revolution in this vision and I am pleased to be leading the region as we aim for a new place in the global economy.”

As for that transatlantic fibre optic cable, it’s stated that it would run from New York (USA) to Oxwich Bay in Gower (Wales) and the discussions are said to be at an advanced stage. But we’ve been able to find some mentions of a cable that was original laid in 1990 between the USA and UK, which apparently landed at Oxwich Bay and then went on to Cambridge University, although it doesn’t show up on the usual cable maps and so may have been deactivated (there’s also one [SOLAS] that lands nearby, from Ireland, at Port Eynon).

In terms of funding, the four local councils in the city region are looking at a £100m commitment over 20 years, with further contributions also expected to come from the private sector and EU. However the Government will probably take some time to consider the proposal and whether or not it will bring quite as much benefit as claimed.

Leave a Comment
1 Response
  1. Avatar Sunil Sood

    I can’t see Swansea really benefiting from the council investing in a transatlantic fibre optic cable – most of the IP traffic would still go to LINX etc.

    However, they are favoured by BT – who have invested a lot of money in the area. Not just the G.fast trials, but before that they got 21CN first (including the voice element which was later canned elsewhere)

    I think BT decided long ago that the geography in that part of the country makes it an excellent test bed for new technology..

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