An open-access fibre network has been launched in north Wales, enabling broadband services with speeds of up to 1Gbps for local business parks and other areas in the region.
Financial backing for the network — called 'FibreSpeed' — has come from both the public and private sectors. A total of £30m of investment has been put up by the Welsh Assembly Government, European Regional Development Fund, and fibre-network company Geo Networks.
The Assembly Government predicted the investment will add £29m GVA (gross value added) year on year to the Welsh economy.
Broadband service providers can gain wholesale access to the fibre infrastructure — which stretches for more than 200 miles between Holyhead in Anglesey and the UK's core network in Manchester — via a pricing structure comparable to that on offer in London and south-east England, according to the Assembly Government.
FibreSpeed will initially be available to around 1,000 businesses located on key business parks in north Wales, but the Assembly Government said it anticipates service providers will invest in infrastructure of their own — such as LLU (local loop unbundling) and high-speed wireless — which will extend services to potentially tens of thousands of further businesses and homes, and more rural areas in the region.
According to the Assembly Government, high-speed broadband services can be up to six times more expensive in north Wales than in London and the south east.
Ieuan Wyn Jones, deputy first minister of Wales and minister for the economy and transport, said in a statement: "Networks such as FibreSpeed offer a workable way through this problem. They allow the public and private sectors to share infrastructure and, through selling space to service providers, see the benefits cascade down to businesses and homes in the form of high-speed connections and lower bills."