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Lucky few in trial of ultrafast broadband

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New idea: BT says that its G.fast trials prove the potential for Gigabit over copper

New idea: BT says that its G.fast trials prove the potential for Gigabit over copper

HOUSEHOLDS and businesses in Swansea are among the first in the UK to experience ultrafast broadband with a trial of cuttingedge BT technology. The new ‘G.fast’ technology, which is being pioneered by BT’s world famous research and development team, has already been shown to deliver download speeds up to 330 megabits per second (Mbps) – more than ten times the current UK average. The new technical trial in Swansea focuses on how G.fast can be used to serve multiple dwelling units, such as apartment blocks and business centres, both of which present unique challenges. Around 100 homes and businesses in the Swansea SA1 Waterfront and Maritime Quarter will benefit from the free technical trial for approximately 6 months.

The trial is testing the technology, including speeds and customer experiences. G.fast changes the way today’s broadband is transmitted, delivering ultrafast speeds that currently require fibre to be run all the way to the premises (FTTP). This is significant as it will enable Openreach, BT’s local network business, to make ultrafast broadband available to a much larger number of homes and businesses, and in a shorter time. If trials like the one in Swansea prove successful – and if UK regulation continues to encourage investment – Openreach aims to start deploying G.fast in 2016/17 alongside its fibre-to-the-cabinet and fibre-tothe- premises services. The company believes that G.fast will enable it to make speeds of a few hundred megabits per second available to millions of homes by 2020 and deliver up to 500Mbps to most of the UK within a decade as the technology is developed further.

Welcoming today’s announcement, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Julie James, said: “Wales is already leading the way in terms of superfast broadband coverage and we welcome the fact that BT has selected Swansea to trial this next generation of broadband technology. “We are already working with BT to roll-out superfast broadband to homes and businesses across Wales which will help support our economy. We want to stay ahead of the competition and so it’s good to see this continued investment and innovation in the industry.

Ultrafast broadband could eventually deliver even more benefits to Wales – helping drive economic growth and create jobs.” Sir Terry Matthews, chairman of the Swansea Bay City Region Board, added: “Events have moved at an astonishing speed since the G.fast technical trial was announced at the Swansea Bay City Region Innovation Summit in May. “I am personally delighted at the number and range of business and residential consumers who will be able to experience the benefits of this technology. It will lay the foundations for the exploration of a fantastic range of next-generation services and applications.” Among the first companies to take part in the trial are Technium 2 based, S8080: one of Wales’s largest website design agencies.

Peter Ward, Network Administrator of the agency, which specialises in large public sector projects, said: “We’re a company that rely heavily on fast, reliable connectivity to the internet in order to both upload and download large files to our clients.” “Our first impression of G.fast is that it’s a technology that does exactly this and is much quicker than what we’ve used in the past. It’s great news for Swansea that G.fast is being trialled here and I’d encourage other businesses in the area to take advantage of the opportunity to test this cutting-edge technology.” Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s cabinet m ember for enterprise, development and regeneration, said: “It’s hugely encouraging that this technical trial is taking place in Swansea. “It shows confidence in Swansea’s ambition to be a leading city of innovation and business that’s at the forefront of new technology.

“The technical trial will be a huge boost for residents and businesses that are participating and as it is rolled out in Swansea in future, this technology will help transform local businesses, improve the local economy and attract new investment and jobs.” Kim Mears, managing director of infrastructure at Openreach, said: “The technical trial at Swansea underpins a number of commitments which we have made as a business around coverage and speed. “We continue to invest in network innovation, bringing this fantastic technology to serve complex multidwelling units and business premises. “The G.fast technology trial will help us in supporting the Government’s ambition of going beyond the UK’s 95 per cent target for fibre broadband whilst providing the speed which our customers want.”

Mike Galvin, who has been leading the technical trials of G.fast as BT’s managing director of service, strategy and operations, said: “This technical trial in Swansea builds on our work in the labs and on the largest customer trials of G.fast technology in the world in Gosforth and Huntingdon*. “We will be testing ways of delivering ultrafast speeds to flats, apartments and business units, so the people of Swansea will play an extremely important role in helping us gauge how this technology performs, and how we might deliver it to more of Wales and the UK over the coming years. “We are also grateful to both the Welsh Government and Swansea Council, who are playing a key supportive role with the trial. “The people of Swansea are also playing an extremely important part in helping us gauge how the technology performs, and how we might deliver ultrafast speeds to more of Wales and the UK over the coming years.”

The speeds provided by this technology enables customers to stream live ultra-high-definition 4K video content to multiple devices at once, whilst simultaneously browsing the web, uploading videos and photos, or playing online games. Residents and businesses in the Swansea Waterfront Prince of Wales Dock area on Kings Road and the Maritime Quarter area on Trawler Road wanting to take part in this technical trial should contact swanseaultrafast@bt.com BT has pioneered research into G.fast technology since 2007 and been heavily involved in driving the creation of global industry standards in that time. The G.fast trial in Swansea builds on the existing investment BT has made in fibre infrastructure in the city. Approximately 95 per cent of the Swansea local authority area already has access to fibre when both BT’s commercial and Superfast Cymru’s roll out are combined.

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Llanelli High Street shortlisted for prize

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LLANELLI HIGH STREET has been shortlisted in the Government’s Great British High Street Awards, in proud partnership with Visa, putting them in the running for up to £15,000.

After a rigorous selection process led by a panel of independent judges, the high street has been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, which celebrates high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify.

The bid by Ymlaen Llanelli follows research commissioned by Visa in April 2019 demonstrating the positive impact that the local high street has on communities. The research found that nearly three quarters of consumers (71%) in Wales say that shopping locally makes them feel happy, with nearly half (45%) citing supporting local shops and knowing where their money is going as the main reason. Spending time with friends and family (25%) and offering a sense of community (18%) were other reasons cited for why high streets make people feel happier. The research also reveals that half of consumers (50%) feel that their high street gives them a sense of pride in their local community.

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP said: “Congratulations to Llanelli for being shortlisted for the Rising Star Award for this year’s Great British High Street Awards.

“Llanelli high street is a hive of activity, with food festivals, childrens’ days and community get-togethers all part of the local calendar. A great example of how high streets can bring a renewed energy to communities.

“People are happier when they can see their hard-earned cash support local businesses. That is why we are celebrating those that go above and beyond to keep their high streets thriving for generations to come.”

Sundeep Kaur, Head of UK & Ireland Merchant Services at Visa, added: “We’ve seen some fantastic entries for this year’s Great British High Street Awards across both the Champion High Street and Rising Star categories. In particular, the desire to innovate stands out amongst this year’s entries, with high streets adapting to the challenges presented by a rapidly changing retail environment to find ways to thrive at a local level.

“As our research shows, high streets play a vital role at the heart of communities, so this is a great opportunity for those communities with shortlisted high streets to show their support by placing their votes on the Great British High Street website.”

Llanelli High Street is one of the 28 high streets that have been shortlisted for the Rising Star category, identifying high streets which are taking the lead to adapt and diversify. 12 high streets have been shortlisted in the Champion High Street category, which recognises the UK’s best high streets. All 40 high streets are now in the running to win a prize of up to £15,000 to be dedicated to a local high street initiative.

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Head Teacher at Primary school in Llanelli suspended

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THE HEAD TEACHER of a Welsh primary school has been suspended, it has been confirmed.

Catherine Lloyd-Jenkins, who is head at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes in Llanelli, has been suspended from her duties at the school with immediate effect.

Governors at the school have been unavailable for comment, but Carmarthenshire Council confirmed the news this morning.

It is understood that the chair of the governing body is currently out of the country, and the council would not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the suspension.

The council’s director of education, Gareth Morgans, said: “School staffing is a matter for the Governing Body, however, we can confirm the headteacher of Ysgol Ffwrnes has been suspended.

“It is not appropriate to comment further.”

Mrs Lloyd-Jenkins has worked at Ysgol Gymraeg Ffwrnes for 23 years, taking up a post at the school in 1996.

She has been the headteacher there for almost 20 years, taking over the role in 2000. She has also worked as a peer inspector at Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales confirmed.

According to one local councillor, ‘serious concerns’ have been raised about the school in recent months.

“Local residents and parents have approached us raising serious concerns about the school in question,” said Carmarthenshire councillor Rob James.

“We are in dialogue with senior council officers to assert whether the allegations are credible and what action the council and governors have taken in response to these allegations.”

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Dyfed-Powys Police numbers at record low, say Labour

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POLICE officers based across the Dyfed-Powys area are now at their lowest levels in the last decade, with over 300 officers being lost across the region, claim Carmarthenshire Labour.

According to a freedom of information request by Carmarthenshire Labour, police officers based across Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion are down 42% and are at record lows in both Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion.

The figures published by Dyfed-Powys Police show that Carmarthenshire has lost 160 officers in the last ten years, Pembrokeshire is down 107 officers and Ceredigion has lost 56 bobbies on the beat.

These figures come off the back of a poor report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that shows the force has gone backwards in the last year, with crime also on the increase.

HMIC’s recent PEEL (Police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy) report noted concerns about Dyfed-Powys Police’s performance in keeping people safe and reducing crime and specifically warned of failures to assess all incidents of domestic abuse.

Carmarthenshire Labour Leader Cllr Rob James claims that the figures show that the current Police and Crime Commissioner is now performing worse than their predecessor.

Rob James stated: “These figures that show a dramatic decrease in police numbers are extremely worrying and reinforce what communities are saying across Dyfed Powys – there are simply not enough police officers in our areas.

“The fact that we now have lower police numbers in the three counties compared to the end of the last Police and Crime Commissioner’s term with crime now on the rise illustrates that the Plaid Cymru Commissioner is failing in his duty to protect our communities.

“We need urgent action to make our communities safe once more, as there is a clear link between the loss of youth provision and cuts to officer numbers, and the rise of crime in our communities.

“There is little evidence that our Commissioner has grasped the nettle over the last three years in tackling this important issue.”

These claims however, have been slapped down by Police and Crime Comissioner, Dafydd Llewellyn. He said that said that Cllr James had misunderstood or misrepresented the information provided to him.
The Carmarthen data have a significant rider attached to them.

The explanatory note reads: ‘It should be noted that the figures for Carmarthenshire police division between 2008 and 2018 are not comparable as the structure of Carmarthenshire division in 2018 has altered to that of 2008 which has impacted upon the figures provided’.

That explanation is expanded upon concerning the Ceredigion data. Regarding them, an explanatory note warns that: ‘[T]he structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded divisionally now come under the HQ remit, e.g. the Road Policing Unit, CID, etc.’.

Dafydd Llewelyn pointed out that note in his response to The Herald: “As outlined in the response to the Freedom of Information request, structures between 2008 and 2019 are not comparable as some sections that were recorded as divisionally based are now recorded under the HQ remit, for example, Roads Policing Unit, CID.”

Dafydd Llewelyn continued: “Since taking up my role as the elected person to represent the many communities across the four counties served by the force, I have increased the overall resource available by 4%. I have ploughed funding into dedicated teams to support front line officers and have invested in resources to support the most vulnerable in our communities.

“I have commissioned services specific to their needs – be that as victims of domestic abuse or young people choosing to leave their homes for reasons unknown to authorities. I will continue to do this. I will not be held to account by numbers on paper alone, but by the difference I can make to individuals’ quality of life.

“I will also use the opportunity I have to campaign for services appropriate to the very specific needs an area the size of Dyfed-Powys Police has and will work with the force to adapt according to those needs.”

He concluded by pointing out: “Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys remain the safest counties nationally and I’m proud to be driving a service that is willing and able to flex and respond, despite the financial challenges faced day-in-day-out.”

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