Gigabit Wireless Broadband Trial in Rural Wales Morphs into FTTP

llanddewi rhydderch broadband

Homes in the rural Monmouthshire (Wales) village of Llanddewi Rhydderch may soon be connected to a new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based ultrafast broadband ISP network from Broadway Partners, which initially promised to deploy a “Gigabit” speed wireless network but ended up connecting locals at 30Mbps.

The original trial (here) – supported by Broadway Partners (UK ISP Broadway Broadband) and Cambridge Communication Systems (CCS) – formed part of the Government’s wider £2.1m 5G Rural Integrated Testbed (5GRIT) project (here). Back then Broadway said they had set their sights on turning Llanddewi Rhydderch into a “Gigabit Community” by lighting up “this forgotten village with broadband speeds of up to 1,000Mbps.”

However in July 2019 we reported that the new wireless network, which harnessed a 60GHzmesh” radio technology and some of the lower 5GHz frequency band, had sadly only ended up offering broadband speeds of around 30Mbps to most local homes (here). At the time it appeared as if only the village hall and perhaps a few other properties had actually gained access to “gigabit” speeds via the new network.

In fairness the new 30Mbps service, while clearly not even in the same ballpark as all that early talk of “gigabit” performance, was still a significant and most welcome improvement over the 1Mbps or less speeds that locals had previously been forced to suffer via Openreach’s (BT) old copper lines. Indeed the community appeared to be primed to fully adopt the new connectivity.

At the time we also noted that there had been some tentative discussions between the community and Broadway about the possibility of a new “full fibre” (FTTP) network being built into the village (note: the current mmWave wireless link in the village is supplied by fibre backhaul some 5km away), although this seemed likely to be some way off into the future. At least it did until last week’s community meeting (Credits Steve).

Llanddewi Rhydderch – Community Broadband Update

“Thank you to everybody who turned out to the pop in surgery last week. There was a great turnout so much so that Broadway partners have now confirmed that fibre to premises works will start to take place in the village as soon as September this year.

Initially works will be concentrated on connecting the centre of the village as this is an easier task to undertake but our objectives remain the same I.e. to reach the whole of the village at a fair price for all.”

In a related letter from Broadway the operator confirmed the development by saying, “We want to make Llanddewi Rhydderch one of the first Gigabit villages in Wales, by building a fibre network, giving homes access to speeds of up to 1,000Mbps – enough to handle the current and the future needs of every residential and business user.” So forget that “Gigabit” wireless trial, it’s now all about fibre.

However you might say that we’ve learnt to be cautious about the claims made around this particular community and have already hailed Broadway in the hope of gaining some clarification on their FTTP plans. In particular we’re keen to know where the funding will be coming from and whether it will really aim to “reach the whole of the village” (some outlying properties might be quite difficult). We hope to update again later.

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