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Community in Wales Builds Own FTTP Ultrafast Broadband Network

Monday, June 25th, 2018 (5:44 pm) - Score 1,966
michaelston_y_fedw_fttp_broadband_rollout

The Welsh Government has today celebrated the success of a community project, which with a little help from public subsidy (vouchers) and local volunteers has managed to build their own 1Gbps Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP network to homes in the rural village Michaelston y Fedw.

Apparently residents of Michaelston y Fedw have long been suffering from average broadband download speeds of around 4Mbps and they’d had enough of it, but instead of waiting for something better to come along they decided to establish their own Community Interest Company called Michaelston-y-Fedw Internet CIC.

The plan was to raise enough local funding in order to build a Gigabit capable FTTPfull fibre” broadband network, with contractors being employed for some of the hardest work and the rest being shared by a team of dedicated local volunteers (e.g. digging chambers, laying out of ducting, fitting out The Hub, fusion and splicing of fibres, router installations etc.).

After that the project looked to harness the Welsh Government’s voucher schemes to cover the final installation costs. At present Wales is home to two voucher schemes – Access Broadband Cymru (ABC) and Ultrafast Connectivity Vouchers (UCV). The ABC scheme offers vouchers to homes in areas that aren’t currently planned to benefit from the Superfast Cymru project with BT and which don’t have access to a “superfast connection” speed of 30Mbps+ (e.g. £400 for 10Mbps+ or £800 for 30Mbps+).

Meanwhile UCV provides assistance (worth up to £10,000) toward the capital costs of helping businesses in Wales to install an “ultrafast” service offering speeds of 100Mbps+ (30Mbps upload), which requires that related firms exist in an area where speeds of 100Mbps+ cannot currently be achieved via an existing network. Both vouchers schemes are being put into use for this deployment.

We’ve already seen similar schemes in the rest of the UK (e.g. B4RN in England was an inspiration here), although this is one of the first such deployments of that approach in Wales. On top of that Landowners and Farmers throughout the area have also generously given wayleaves across their land for the trenching and laying of ducting for the fibre (commercial operators often have to pay pricey rents for this).

Happily the first connections are now live (as per the video above) at the village pub, community hall and church.

David Schofield, Director of the Michaelston y Fedw Internet CIC, said:

“Ultrafast internet is now a reality in Michaelston y Fedw. This has been achieved through a huge amount of effort by local volunteers who have turned out in all weathers to help build our network. Without them, the support of landowners, the village hall, local investors and the Welsh Government grant schemes this would never have got off the ground. We now have internet speeds that are world class, and this makes all the effort worthwhile.”

Julie James AM, Leader of the House and Chief Whip, said:

“While our programme Superfast Cymru has transformed the digital landscape in Wales, with over nine out of ten premises now able to access superfast broadband as a result compared with just over half when we began, we know there are communities which are not able to access it.

It’s great to see how the community of Michaelston-y-Fedw have spotted an opportunity to use the Welsh Government’s voucher scheme along with real community spirit to achieve an increase in broadband speed which is a real game-changer. They are now able to benefit from some of the fastest internet speeds in the UK, which is a credit to all those involved in this project.

Earlier this year I announced proposals to bring faster internet to communities in Wales which were not part of the Superfast Cymru or commercial rollouts, and this includes looking at what communities can do together. I’m pleased to see what has been achieved here, which shows that community power coupled with government support can really make a difference.”

Overall more than 175 local premises are expected to be covered by the new network, which should complete sometime later this autumn 2018. Sadly it’s unclear how much total funding was raised to pay for the primary network build.

The plan is to connect every property free of charge (vouchers allowing), with the first years’ service also being provided free of charge and thereafter a monthly charge of £30 will apply for each connection. Once again this is a very similar model to the one that B4RN have been using for several years, with plenty of success.

So far as we can tell the new network is being supplied with the necessary capacity via one of Openreach’s fibre optic connections.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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9 Responses
  1. chris conder

    Brilliant. You have to admire a community of Grit. Well done MiFi.

  2. chris conder

    oops, MyFi. I spelled it wrong… https://www.myfi.wales/

  3. Brinley Richards

    Thank you Chris,yourself and B4RN were our inspiration.We have seen nearly 600 Mbps WiFi in the pub !! It certainly helped to have a short back haul of only 5 Kilometres to the data centre at Newport. We spoil our village with no connection charge and free service for 12 months then £30/ month, must be the cheapest in the world. As you know so well it would not be possible without the landowners giving us free wayleaves and the huge amount of work and skill shown by the volunteers.
    About half way through the project so about another three months to go.
    Thanks again B4RN and you Chris for your youtube videos lol
    Brin http://www.myfi.wales

    • chris conder

      Really proud of you lot. Keep the faith and keep digging and give the FT a bell, they are looking for good news stories amidst the doom and gloom of our poor FTTC country, let them see Wales is fighting back through a community of grit.

  4. Neb

    Fantastic result and worth the collective efforts. Happy to see that public money does actually made it to this project.

    On the voucher scheme front, did you find it ‘over the top’ bureaucratic? Did they tailor there approach, to the scheme or just treat you like BT for example?

    I’ll have to pop in your local to test the WiFi for myself next time i’m close by!

    • Brinley Richards

      Civil servants could have not been more helpful and supportive.
      Now it is up to the rest of Wales to follow us.
      Built for the village by the village!!
      Brin

  5. chris conder

    Get loads of photos out there, show that it isn’t rocket science and let us hope other communities follow your shining example. Well done all of you, Carina fusing, awesome. BT haven’t got the staff doing that yet, they are still all running round patching up old phone lines.

    • Brinley Richards

      Thanks . Good day today, lots of publicity to spread the message.
      BBC, ITV, Daily Mail, the SUN, The Gardian and a couple of regional papers.
      Not bad after I made some phonecall yesterday lol
      Brin

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