A community-run broadband scheme in a rural village between Cardiff and Newport has successfully extended faster and more reliable broadband connections to even more members of the local community thanks to £525,000 funding from the Welsh Government.
In 2017, the community of Michaelston y Fedw struggled with a barely useable broadband service. The community came together and decided to build their own broadband network.
To achieve this, they formed a community interest company (CIC); Michaelston y Fedw Internet CIC (MyFi). Teams of local volunteers helped build the network as well as employing contractors to complete some work. The Welsh Government’s voucher schemes helped fund the network build. Following initial work, over 200 homes and businesses in the area were able to enjoy upload and download speeds of 1Gbps or 1,000Mbps.
In 2020, the community identified a need for further investment to extend the network to other local homes and businesses and to safeguard the investment they had already made. The main issue identified was that all active equipment was currently installed in a shipping container in the village. MyFi understood that this was a vulnerable location with security issues and was restricting further expansion of the network.
The community applied for funding from the Welsh Government’s Local Broadband Fund, a £22 million fund aimed at local authorities and social enterprises to help them deliver local broadband roll-out plans. The funding has allowed them to house their equipment in a secure data centre and lay point to point fibre direct from the data centre to Michaelston y Fedw. This means the communities broadband connections are now fully secure and future-proofed, with the ability of offering 10Gbps connections to any residents requesting them.
Thanks to the investment, the network has also been extended into neighbouring communities, with 380 local homes and businesses now connected.
Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said:
MyFi is a highly innovative project which brings people together to deliver fast and reliable broadband for their community. I’m very pleased the Welsh Government has been able to help the company build on the incredible work they have already done to secure and extend broadband provision to other communities.
“Our Local Broadband Fund and various other schemes bring better connectivity to some of the hardest to reach parts of Wales. Good quality digital connectivity underpins everything we do digitally and is the foundation to achieving our ambitious digital strategy for Wales.
“The fund is already delivering a real difference to communities across Wales, like Michaelston y Fedw. I’m really pleased the community has benefitted from further funding to help increase the number of premises that can benefit from faster broadband speeds.
“Broadband is a key utility, and we’ll continue to support all efforts to boost connections the length and breadth of Wales.”
Bethan, a local resident from Draethen who has benefited from a connection to the network said:
With two teenage daughters and a sports-mad husband, as well as working from home permanently since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, our poor internet speed was proving challenging to say the least. With various streaming channels being watched at the same time and multiple devices draining the bandwidth, it became almost impossible to function in our household.
“When I was made aware of the possibility that MyFi Wales could potentially connect the village to their ultra-high-speed broadband, I was determined to do everything I could to help. A few ladies in the village helped me co-ordinate the collection of names of interested parties, so I started gathering all the information needed to apply for the vouchers required. My friend Helen and I managed to get all paperwork signed and over to MyFi before the cut-off date and we managed to get the project off the ground. The work the MyFi Team put in was phenomenal and we can’t thank them enough for all their efforts.
“We now have the fastest Broadband in Wales and life is so much more bearable, both from a family and working from home perspective. Undoubtedly one of the best projects I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of!”