The Welsh Assembly Government has signed a £30m, 15-year deal with fibre network specialist Geo to create an advanced open access network aimed at boosting the country’s business and economy.
The new network could also boost Welsh plans for improving broadband connections in the public sector.
The FibreSpeed project will be managed by the Welsh government’s Department for the Economy and Transport and is aimed at providing the infrastructure to allow internet service providers and telecommunications firms to offer high-speed, high-bandwidth services to businesses and consumers.
FibreSpeed will support a minimum of symmetrical 10Mbit/s services with multi-gigabit capability and will have the capacity for greater speeds as technology and demand develops.
Funding for the scheme will come from EU structural funds, and from Geo, which will build and operate the fibre network. The roll-out of the new network is set to begin in North Wales.
Ieuan Wyn Jones, Wales’ deputy first minister said signing the deal was “a landmark” for businesses in Wales. “We all want a vibrant and booming economy in North Wales, and a high speed communications infrastructure is one of the most important components of that.
“This implementation will enable organisations in Wales to affordably utilise the communications services that other parts of the UK already enjoy, and will encourage external investment and relocation to the country.”
The first phase of the contract will see up to 14 business parks in North Wales connected to the FibreSpeed network.
Earlier this year, the Welsh Assembly took another step forward in boosting broadband capability, with European Commission clearance for its plans for procuring a high bandwidth network for public sector bodies.
The public sector broadband aggregation project (PSBA) aims to aggregate the demand for broadband across swathes of the public sector and replace individually procured and managed networks with a consolidated all-Wales network.
Michael Eaton, director of the Welsh Assembly Government’s e-Wales division, said the public sector scheme hoped to benefit from the new fibre network. “While FibreSpeed isn’t directly linked to the PSBA right now, we do hope to utilise FibreSpeed to provide cheaper communications during the PSBA lifespan,” he confirmed.