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The UK government has announced that more than 600 hospitals, police stations, libraries and other public buildings in Wales have been connected to full-fibre broadband.
The government said the move was not just part of its levelling-up strategy for public services across the UK, but also marked the completion of the largest public sector broadband project in Wales, potentially making a tangible difference to the lives of families, people and communities.
The upgrades were delivered via the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme to help roll out the next generation of faster, full-fibre broadband connections to eligible public buildings, and the Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) hubs programme to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable connections in locations that are unlikely to benefit from commercial investment.
There are four parts of the new programme: the Cardiff Capital Region LFFN project, the Pembrokeshire County Council LFFN public sector project, the North Wales LFFN challenge fund project, and the RGC Hub – Rest of Wales project.
The Cardiff Capital Region LFFN project is being delivered by the Welsh government working with the 10 local authorities that make up the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, receiving £2.5m UK funding at 166 public sites. Pembrokeshire will see £1m in UK funding at 68 public sites, while the work in North Wales is Denbighshire-led, working with the six local authorities that make up the North Wales Economic Ambition Board, amounting to £6.5m funding at 311 public sites. The RGC Hub is being delivered by the Welsh government working with 11 rural local authorities in Wales, with £930,00 in UK funding at 75 public sites.
All 620 buildings included in the project now have greatly improved and ultra-reliable connectivity to help boost the productivity and user experience of the public services they offer and, as requirements increase in the future, they will be able to tap into speeds of more than 1Gbps.
The high-speed connections are up and running in 166 public buildings across the Cardiff Capital Region, including in Cardiff, Newport, Bridgend, Caerphilly and Pontypool and more rural areas such as Hengoed, Treharris and Usk. In North Wales, 311 public buildings have been upgraded, including in Colwyn Bay, Rhuddlan, Rhyl, Llandudno, Wrexham and smaller towns and villages such as Betws-y-Coed and Cerrigydrudion. Pembrokeshire has seen 68 public buildings upgraded, including in Haverfordwest, Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Tenby, and 75 sites in rural areas across Wales have also been switched on, including near Welshpool, Bangor and St David’s.
The delivery of gigabit connectivity connections is also designed to incentivise commercial broadband providers to deliver upgrades to surrounding homes and businesses in Wales by allowing them to extend the government-funded gigabit network, which is cheaper and quicker than having to build it from scratch.
Simon Hart, secretary of state for Wales, said: “This is a significant step that will make so many people’s lives easier in Wales. Every day, increasingly more public services are being delivered online. The investment of £11.5m from the UK government to improve connectivity means the public will have better access to these services, which will be faster and more efficient.
“And for those who do the vital work in these locations, such as GP surgeries, day care centres and libraries – they will notice a transformation that will allow them to deliver their important work with greater ease.”
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