After sustained lobbying by Plaid Cymru at all levels of government, the vision of an ultra-fast digital highway reaching rural west Wales is set to become a reality.
The Plaid-led Carmarthenshire County Council today approved a £50m+ Digital Infrastructure Connectivity investment – an essential provision to enable economic development. The scheme is part of the Swansea Bay City Deal and will provide full fibre fixed connectivity and associated infrastructure, as well as 4G, 5G and the Internet of Things – a ground-breaking concept which can interconnect the world’s estimated 100 billion internet accessed devices, changing the way we live and work.
This ultra-fast and ultra-reliable digital connectivity will help to accelerate economic growth and establish Carmarthenshire as a centre of excellence in the key sectors of energy, life science and well-being, and smart manufacturing. The proposed work will lead to:
- An increase in local productivity and employment
- An uplift in the region’s attractiveness for both the telecommunications industry and subsequent inward investment by highly skilled digitally intensive industries
- An enhanced ability to deliver local services, notably education, health, and transport
- Environmental benefits through the facilitation of teleworking and enhanced traffic management
- A reduced gap in access to digital services across the region, notably to isolated and Rural communities
- Enabling digital transformation across the public and private sector
- Ensuring the cities and development zones of the region obtain a competitive advantage against other parts of the UK.
All parts of the county will benefit – news which was warmly welcomed by Plaid members from urban and rural areas alike.
Penygroes councillor Dai Thomas said: “Cross Hands is becoming a major business hub, with several innovative small businesses, so it’s essential that BT Openreach proceeds rapidly with the fibre connection. It’s vital for our future prosperity in Carmarthenshire that this development takes place as soon as possible, as superfast broadband is a key element in our strategy of enabling young people to continue to live and work in their communities.”
The lack of Superfast Broadband in many rural areas has hampered businesses and communities alike. The new investment programme will ensure that as many rural premises as possible in the region has access to a minimum broadband service, currently considered to be 30Mbs.
Trelech councillor Jean Lewis said: "As one who represents a large rural area, I’m delighted by this announcement. I’ve been lobbying consistently for an improved broadband service since I was elected several years ago. During this pandemic period in particular, technology has become an essential lifeline for most of us. This exciting strategy gives hope for businesses and residents who suffer a very slow service at present. It will provide equality opportunities for all the county’s residents and the County Council’s leadership is to be commended for their part in ensuring that this will happen.”