BT has completed a quest to carry full fibre broadband to the most remote part of Wales, Dinas Mawddwy.
The tiny village in Gwynedd, north Wales, supports a population of just 600 that can now access download speeds of up to 330Mbps and uploads of 30Mbps.
Engineers installed a 36 kilometer fibre optic connection in order for FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) to reach properties in the village.
The 16km overhead portion is one of the longest overhead lines set up in the UK, backed up by 20 kilometers of underground fibre.
Deputy minister for skills and technology, Julie James, said: “The sheer distance of the overhead fibre to reach the village is an achievement which hasn’t been realised before throughout the UK and shows our commitment to connect rural communities in Wales.
“We are committed to seeing Wales become a truly digital nation and the Superfast Cymru scheme is vital in making that vision a reality.”
Superfast Cymru is a £205 million fellowship jointly funded by the Welsh Government, the UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund.
As if to compound the epic effort BT’s Openreach engineers embarked on, Dinas Mawddwy is home to Festival Art and Books, a book dealer that specialises in selling rare editions of J.R.R. Tolkien books.
Owner Mark Faith, who once ran a Lord of the Rings-themed festival in nearby Pontrhydfendigaid, said that fibre broadband will transform his business.
“We’re a rural business that relies heavily on the internet. We haven’t had the service long but I can already see how having fibre will open up new opportunities to develop our business,” said Faith.
“We produce art for both album and book covers and having fast broadband to send artwork quickly from Dinas Mawddwy will make all the difference. To put it simply – faster internet speeds will give us a competitive edge.”
In the separate but related Superfast Cornwall project, staff at Arcol, an electronics firm based in Threemilestone, Cornwall spoke of how going from 1Mbps up to 330Mbps back in 2012 changed everything for them.
Video conferencing and cloud computing was not even on the cards for Arcol before Superfast Cornwall. Now the company is able to take and process orders for components at trade conferences and events from anywhere in the world.
In the coming months, more properties across the area will be able to order FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) services. These slower and less future-proofed connections provide maximum download speeds of 80Mbps and top uploads of 20Mbps – but speeds are dependent on your location.
BT is currently trialling G.fast, an emerging technology that promises to greatly increase the top speeds possible on copper last mile connections. It’s unclear when this technology will be deployed, how fast it’ll allow customers to go and perhaps most importantly how much it will cost.
Superfast Cymru aims to deliver superfast broadband – speeds of at least 24Mbps – to 96 per cent of properties by Spring 2016.
Update: BT has confirmed that 160 premises in Dinas Mawddwy have been passed by FTTP, with more to come. It’s not clear how many properties in the village will get FTTP but BT has confirmed that other locations in FTTC will be coming to other locations in Dinas Mawddwy.
BT spokespeople have also confirmed that engineering work today has been interrupted by an outbreak of newts. It wouldn’t be the first time wildlife has slowed the progress of Openreach teams. It’s not clear how many newts were involved or how much of a delay their presence will cause.
Update 2: BT has now insisted that the newts have not and will not interrupt engineering works. A BT spokesperson said: “It’s just something that we’ve had to factor in to our planning.”