First projects benefit from £10m broadband fund

The first projects to benefit from the Welsh Government’s £10m Local Broadband Fund have been announced today by the Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters.

The Local Broadband Fund supports local authorities and social enterprises to deliver broadband projects locally, helping communities without access.

Local authorities and social enterprises can bid for funding to help bring fast and reliable broadband to communities with poor connection. The next stage of the fund is open for applications and is due to close on 28 January.

Two projects in Monmouthshire and one in Michaelston y Fedw near Newport are set to benefit from over £1.1m between them to take forward projects to further improve broadband speeds in their areas.

Bids are submitted to the Local Broadband Fund by local authorities and social enterprises to address particular problems with broadband speeds in their communities.

The projects to benefit in the first tranche are as follows:

  • Llanthony Valley, Monmouthshire – Hybrid fibre / wavelength backhaul solution to bring better connections to the area. The valley has 122 premises 30 per cent of which are businesses in this popular tourist area.  It is currently one of the most poorly connected areas in the county.
  • Monmouthshire County Council scheme to build mixed wireless and fibre optic access network capable of delivering speeds of between 50Mbs and 1Gbs across Monmouthshire to digitally deprived communities. It will also support the Welsh Government’s 5G testbed project which aims to connect rural communities in Monmouthshire and semi urban communities in Blaenau Gwent
  • Michaelston y Fedw Internet Community Interest company – Since 2018 the company has provided 240 fibre to the premises connections to rural properties which previously struggled to obtain a useable broadband service. Currently all active equipment is installed in a shipping container in Michaelston y Fedw. The funding will contribute towards a secure data centre and fibre cables from that centre, which would also provide opportunity for future expansion to more premises

The Deputy Minister for Economy and Transport Lee Waters said: “Over this difficult and challenging year the importance of fast reliable broadband has become even more apparent.  While this area is not devolved to Wales we are taking action to bring faster broadband speeds and better mobile connectivity where we can.

“While the vast majority of premises across all parts of Wales can now access superfast speeds, following our intervention with Superfast Cymru, we know there are communities which continue to be poorly served.

“The Local Broadband Fund allows local authorities to nominate particular schemes which will specifically target communities where there are issues with slow speeds and poor mobile signal.  I’m pleased today to announce the first three schemes to benefit from this funding.  This will deliver a real difference to those communities.

“I look forward to making more announcements over the next few months and will be working with local authorities to identify the communities and schemes which would have the most to gain from this fund.”