Welsh village residents dig 15 miles of trenches for faster wifiFeb 10, 2020
Residents of a tiny Welsh village were so exasperated with their feeble internet connection that they decided to get together and dig 15 miles of trenches to lay their own super-fast cables.
Farmers, teachers and retired people in the village of Michaelston-y-Fedw – population about 300 – were among those who contributed thousands of volunteer hours to the effort.
The first households have just been connected and by the autumn 90% of homes in the village, which is tucked away in the countryside between Cardiff and Newport, should be enjoying an internet speed of 1,000 Mbps. The previous speed was just 4Mbps.
Like so many ideas, good and bad, it was hatched in the pub, the Cefn Mably Arms. Its landlord, Ben Longman, said: “We were all moaning about how bad the wifi was. I had just paid for high speed broadband and realised it would not work.”
A community interest company was set up and grants secured from the Welsh government but to keep the costs to householders down it was decided that as much work as possible would be done by villagers themselves.
Local farm workers have been hired to help dig, but villagers have done much of the work, including excavating trenches from the boundaries of their properties to the external wall where the fibre enters their homes.
One of the organisers, Carina Dunk, 61, said it was fantastic what the village had achieved. She said: “It used to take a few days to download a film, now it will be less than a minute. Sometimes we have to take a step back and pinch ourselves at what we have done. Anyone can do it, it is not rocket science.”
Her husband, Jim Dunk, 71, a retired marine worker, said he had lived in the village for more than 40 years but had made new friends through the project. “The number of people from different walks of life I have met has been incredible.”
Each household that applied before 30 April is being connected free of charge and the first year’s service will also be free. Thereafter the fee will be £30 a year.
Another villager, Brinley Richards, 79, said: “It is a remarkable success story. I am so proud of the community. The village deserves recognition. Some of the people work more than 12 hours a day. I have no doubt that other parts of Wales will be asking us for advice.”