Description / Explanation

This is the first community-built project, to install 1Gbps upload and download FTTP in Wales. The initial interest shown resulted in around 70 properties that wanted a connection. Work was carried out by local contractors and volunteers from the community. Working with a budget of EUR 300 000 we have achieved massive cost savings because the local community have worked together to roll out ducting, install chambers, splice bullets, blow fibre, carry out fusion and splicing and fit out The Hub. The project will come in on budget, on time, without the local community paying out hundreds of thousands of euros; achieve 1Gbps upload and download internet speeds, when the average in the village was typically 0.5 - 5 Mbps. The project has raised the community spirit and has brought the community together with new friendships forged and a general feeling of excitement and well-being.

Project submitted by

Name
Carina Dunk
Organisation
Michaelston-y-Fedw Internet CIC
Function
Publicity Officer
Phone
0044 1633 61144

Infrastructure & Service

Speed / performance
≥100 Mbps
Infrastructure, technology and architecture
Our network is totally FTTP using point to point technology (not GPON). We have a service level agreement in place (2 hours to site, 4 hours to fix) on our Backhaul to the Data Centre. We have trained local volunteers who are able to not only to install but to maintain the network as required. When issues arise we are able to get to site and implement a temporary fix usually within hours of the fault occurring . We carry stocks of replacement parts and materials so that any issues can be resolved in a timely manner. Our core router and network equipment is also covered by a 2 hour to site and 4 hour to fix Service Level Agreement. We will only be connecting a maximum of 200 properties currently but with the bandwidth that we have available this could easily be increased without affecting existing users.

Financing

Cost structure and financing sources
Initial capital of € 170,000 was invested by local residents under an SEIS Scheme providing the start up capital required for materials and contractors to carry out the groundworks. Once connections were completed Superfast Broadband for Cymru Grants from The Welsh Government = € 292,000 were paid Once the Broadband is completed, profits from the monthly subscriptions will go to further improve the network or back into the community for projects which will be voted for by the shareholders of Michaelston-y-Fedw Internet CIC.

The 10Gb fibre feed has been bought to the Hub via shared ducting arrangement with Openreach and Hub Network Services. Farmers and Land Owners granted wayleaves at no cost. Volunteers carrying out many of the tasks and activities have ensured that costs have been reduced by hundreds of thousands of euros. Ongoing maintenance will be carried out by volunteers therefore ensuring further cost reductions.
Was the project supported by EU funding?
No

Scalability

Actors involved and their roles
5 Directors of Michaelston-y-Fedw Internet CIC are the main decision makers along with a sub committees and local residents. We are very fortunate to have in the local community, skills, expertise and knowledge that has been freely given, training volunteers in the areas of fusion and splicing, blowing fibre and installing splice bullets. A core team of 40 volunteers from the local community have generously given their time and effort in all the activities saving hundred of thousands of euros. Local residents have invested a total of € 170,000 under the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. We have had excellent co-operation and support from the local community and local utility companies with regard to the location of their underground pipes and cables. The Welsh Government Broadband Team were involved at an early stage providing advice on the feasibility of the project and obtaining grants. They have an ongoing role administrating the grant process and are keen to promote our project to other start-up groups in Wales. Service has been provided to the local church and village hall which enables them to attract new users.
Unique characteristics
We are the first rural, community built, 1 Gbps upload and download FTTP Broadband in Wales . We lead the field in equal upload and download speeds, affordability, bringing the community together in both digital and analogue environment, and have a network that could be upgraded in the future to handle speeds of more than 100Gbps.
Success factors
Working within budget; with volunteers carrying out various elements of the project we have achieved cost savings of hundreds of thousands of euros, building an internet infrastructure which is entirely FTTP, is all underground, forging new friendships, building community spirit, and bringing together a cohesive team of people who live in the village that have the expertise, skills and knowledge along with the enthusiasm, passion and determination to support this project to a successful conclusion.
Business model
community broadband model

Project review

Results
Both residents and businesses have benefitted by having much improved internet access and speeds enabling increased efficiency, much improved communications and a huge improvement in community spirit. Businesses are now better able to conduct their work from home in a more efficient and effective manner. Some have already moved staff from office premises into their home office to take advantage of the 1Gbps internet to further improve business activities. Properties within the connection area will see their property values increase as a result of having one of the best internet connections in the UK. Our 1Gbps broadband will cost each resident just € 33 per month which is far less than any commercial company can feasibly do. The younger generation are more likely to stay within the community because we now have world class broadband.
Technical potential for expansion, future proof infrastructure
2 fibres are laid to every property to future proof the system. Ducts have been laid to all properties. With some upgrading of equipment in the Hub, we will have the capability of delivering 100Gbps upload and download in the future. As a rural village we do not have hospitals, libraries, or schools. However we do have a small industrial estate with a number of business units that will currently benefit along with a Church, Bar & Restaurant and Village Hall. Our network already fulfils the EU gigabit ambition target for 2025. As well as exploiting the network and creating new opportunities in the village, through the ultrafast connection, we are also researching the use of LoRa WAN Internet of Things network, that will hopefully assist farmers and other businesses in the village.
Socio-economic impact
Local Businesses can now operate more efficiently and effectively from wherever they are based in our service area, they can send and receive large files, use video conferencing and cloud storage with ease. They now do not have to travel out of the area to an office to enable them to work which provides a large benefit to the environment. Dramatic cost savings are achieved by not having to have separate office space, less use of motor vehicles and increased productivity due the decreased travelling time. Our local bar and restaurant have seen an upturn in business with customers actually choosing to travel to the location for the specific purpose of making use of the 1Gbps ultrafast service. See press articles as detailed in Q 112.

This project is a Community Led Local Development and is the result of user based initiatives which could not be achieved without the intense co-operation of volunteers. Residents will typically be able to use this high speed internet for downloading films, gaming, and their usual email, internet browsing video calling etc in a much more efficient way. Previously they were unable to download films or take part in gaming as the speed was insufficient. Businesses can work in a much more efficient and effective manner, particularly if their work involves the uploading / downloading of big files ie more than 1Gb. Our high take up of 90% is enabling both the adoption and creation of products, services and applications.

Further information