North Wales to get £56 million digital connectivity upgrade

North Wales will undergo a £56 million digital connectivity upgrade plan over the next few years.

It’s a critical programme of the North Wales Growth Bid, which is on a mission to improve the region’s infrastructure to enable public and private sector growth.

The project – which is being supported by six local authorities, the North Wales and Mersey Dee Business Council, colleges and universities – will bring the area in line with other parts of Wales.

Currently, Gwynedd, Denbighshire, Anglesey and Conwy are among the worst local authorities areas for superfast broadband coverage.

Colin Everett, chief executive of Flintshire County Council, highlighted the importance of the investment. “North Wales has lagged behind the rest of the UK for many years in terms of coverage and capacity,” he said.

“With the emergence of commercially available fibreoptic technology towards the end of the 20th century, the widening of the digital divide now has the potential to increase even further, which is why this programme is so important.”

“Businesses consulted as part of the wider Growth Vision have cited digital connectivity as the single most important aspect of it, so it’s crucial we begin to make inroads and deliver better infrastructure, to support industry and attract new business into the region.”

In recent years, the Welsh Government has launched a variety of action plans to roll out gigabit and ultrafast, full-fibre broadband services across the country.

Speaking at a forum held at Bangor University in April, Steve Bayley – head of housing and economy at Wrexham County Borough Council – warned of consequences if this situation doesn’t change.

“Most of North Wales falls into that lowest quartile of the UK, which has to be addressed,” he argued.

“Demand has grown over the past few years and we are all part of that, with households using social media, live streaming, laptops, phones and more on a daily basis.

“We need this boost, current businesses especially, and it’s about future proofing and supporting them so they can remain competitive and at the forefront of industry, without these obstacles.

“They need the technology and the speeds a better infrastructure will bring, so this is a vital part of the Growth Vision for the region.”