Fibrespeed Launch Creates UK's First Government Supported Communications Network in North Wales

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Fibrespeed, a high speed, open access communications network that will close the 'digital divide' between North Wales and the rest of the UK, will be officially launched by Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister of Wales and Minister for the Economy and Transport, on Thursday afternoon at 1pm on 27 November 2008 at Technium CAST, Parc Menai in Bangor.

A unique collaboration between the public and private sectors, Fibrespeed is the first Government supported communications network of its kind to be delivered in the UK and is set to transform the regional economy. Stretching over 200 miles between Holyhead in Anglesey and the UK's core network in Manchester, Fibrespeed will bring high speed communications services to key business parks and other areas throughout North Wales.

Fibrespeed has been funded by £30 million of investment from the Welsh Assembly Government, European Regional Development Funds and Geo Networks Ltd. Its launch marks the first phase of a long-term Welsh Assembly Government programme to make affordable high bandwidth services available throughout Wales. Currently, high speed services in the North Wales can be up to six times more expensive than in London and the South East, creating a barrier to business growth and innovation.

By giving service providers wholesale access to the high capacity optical fibre infrastructure, Fibrespeed is creating a vibrant new communications market in the region. Its wholesale pricing structure is comparable to that offered in London and South East England, enabling service providers to offer homes and businesses highly competitive services. Service providers will also be able to extend the network reach to more rural areas throughout the region via their own network infrastructure or wireless solutions.

Fibrespeed's opening on 27 November at Parc Menai will begin with a special event for service providers, with the official launch beginning at 1.30pm with a speech from Ieuan Wyn Jones. This will be followed by presentations from Gareth Hall, Director of the Department for the Economy and Transport from the Welsh Assembly Government and Chris Smedley, Chief Executive of FibreSpeed.

Professor Gareth Hughes, Chief Executive of eris@ will outline the significance of this innovative collaboration from a European perspective. eris@ represents over 40 European regions and helps shape European policy. It is also responsible for the European Commission's European Broadband Portal involving public interventions in broadband deployment in rural, remote and sparsely-populated regions.

Chris Smedley commented: "Access to high speed communications has been highlighted as a critical part of success in the modern world, spanning every aspect of life from children's performance at school to businesses' ability to compete in the global economy. Fibrespeed will allow North Wales to compete on a level playing field with the rest of the UK for the first time. Its world class infrastructure will create a new local telecoms market while giving businesses the opportunity to innovate, grow or relocate to the region."

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister of Wales and Minister for the Economy and Transport, commented: "Networks such as FibreSpeed offer a workable way through this problem. They allow the public and private sectors to share infrastructure and, through selling space to service providers, see the benefits cascade down to businesses and homes in the form of high speed connections and lower bills."

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