South West Wales

Swansea to receive new ultrafast broadband connection

BT engineer on telegraph pole with BT van and logo in forefront of the image Image copyright PA

Swansea is set to become the first area in Wales to receive new ultrafast broadband, BT has announced.

The company's Openreach division is expected to connect thousands of premises in the city during 2017.

It follows a trial of the technology in May last year.

Swansea council said it would enable businesses to grow but the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Wales stressed connections in rural areas also needed to improve.

Ultrafast broadband provides download speeds of up to 330Mbps - more than 10 times the UK national average.

The city is one of 17 areas across the UK to be chosen as a pilot location for the new technology.

Council leader Rob Stewart said: "This is fantastic news for Swansea and supports our drive to make sure the city and the region has a first rate digital infrastructure to enable businesses to grow rapidly.

"It will also complement our plans to introduce a city digital district as part of the City Deal Internet Coast proposals."

Wales' Skills and Science Minister Julie James added: "As we continue to compete on a global scale, ultrafast broadband has the potential to deliver even more benefits to Wales so it is good to see this continued investment and innovation in the industry."

Image copyright David Dixon/Geograph

Concerns have previously been raised about the "digital divide" between rural Wales and the rest of the country.

And in November, Welsh assembly members criticised the roll out of Superfast Cymru, saying it had "failed to deliver".

Ben Cottam, FSB Wales' head of external affairs, said ultrafast broadband in Swansea would "allow businesses to grow and look at operations to trade online".

But he added: "While we would welcome the work that has been done, to roll out this next level of broadband speed is at a time when there are parts of Wales where there aren't basic levels of broadband speeds. There's an element of us needing to walk before we run.

"Swansea city and the bay area may be well connected but we need to make sure that this vital infrastructure is available in the surrounding rural areas, and right throughout Wales."

The other pilot areas include Balham in London, Sheffield, Swindon, and St Austell, Cornwall.

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