Connectivity Boost for Swansea City Centre

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Plans to improve mobile phone connectivity in Swansea city centre have taken a major step forward.

A new agreement between Swansea Council and a company called Freshwave will see small cell technology installed on street lighting to help boost network capacity during busy times.

Virgin Media O2 has committed to deploying up to 10 small cells initially in the city centre, with further investments anticipated.

The small cells also support the potential implementation of other technology to monitor things like smart bins and air pollution.

The agreement aligns with the Swansea Bay City Deal Digital Infrastructure Programme’s goal to generate a regional economic boost of £318 million in the coming years.

Cllr Rob Stewart, Swansea Council Leader, said:

“This scheme is aimed at tackling connectivity issues in Swansea city centre while supporting our ambition to become a more digitally advanced city.

“It will also be futureproofed to meet the increasing demand for data and connectivity, fostering innovation for the benefit of our residents and businesses.

“The collaboration between the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Digital Infrastructure Programme with Swansea Council, Freshwave and Virgin Media O2 represents a significant stride towards a more connected and technologically advanced Swansea city centre with assets that can lead to a more thriving city landscape for residents, visitors and potential investors.”

An open access agreement has been signed, allowing mobile network operators to access and share council-owned assets for their digital infrastructure.

The non-exclusive open access approach enables local authorities to maintain control of their assets while engaging with multiple mobile network operators.

Benefits of this open access model include reducing barriers for mobile network operators, incentivising the use of existing infrastructure, improving the fibre footprint, and facilitating quicker deployment of new technologies.

Steven Verigotta, Head of Radio & Mobile Backhaul Delivery at Virgin Media O2, said: 

“With the largest small cell network of any major operator in the UK, we understand how effective they can be in boosting local network capacity in busy areas.

“With upgrade programmes underway right across our network, we’re working hard to ensure our customers consistently receive an exceptional network experience wherever they are and even at the busiest times.”

Freshwave – a connectivity infrastructure-as-a-service provider – facilitates collaboration between mobile operators, government entities, and real estate providers, offering faster, cost-effective, and strategically located connectivity solutions.

Nick Wiggin, Head of Partnerships at Freshwave, said:

“We’re very happy to have signed an open access agreement with Swansea Council and are looking forward to deploying the technology on behalf of Virgin Media O2 for the benefit of their customers. Open access agreements make it easier to install new technologies so communities can enjoy enhanced connectivity with all the benefits it brings.”

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