An Ambleston farming family, who were told fast broadband would never reach their home, are now enjoying ultrafast fibre speeds, thanks to a pioneering Pembrokeshire project.
The remote location of Anne and Richard James’ cattle farm led previous engineers to tell them that they could not receive anything other than their slow service along the old copper line.
Problems on the line added to the frustration of barely receiving a pitiful 1Mbps, and the property sometimes went days without any service at all.
Anne said: “The engineer, last time he came, said we would never get fast broadband here.”
After signing up to join the Digital Pembrokeshire project, which uses government vouchers to enable gigabit-capable fibre connections, Mr and Mrs James are now delighted to receive a reliable high-speed connection.
Ambleston was one of Pembrokeshire’s Pilot Project Areas, and the community chose internet suppliers Broadway Partners to build the new fibre network.
Hayog Farm was connected at the end of November, after a long line of new poles was installed along their long track to bring gigabit-capable full-fibre right to their property.
The whole family is now benefiting from a consistent, high-speed service, which enables the beef and arable farm to fill in essential admin online, while the couple’s two sons are able to work from home and quickly download games and films with ease.
Anne said: “We have to report all movements, etc, online, we are lucky we can do all we need to do
“It has been a bit of a boost for the business, it’s there when you need it.”
“We have to do things online, we can’t be without broadband these days. It’s a basic.”
Son Rhys had to return home from Swansea University in 2020 and complete his dissertation online, before the family was upgraded, and was sometimes left with no option but to work from a relative’s house.
He said: “Sometimes it was not working at all, when I was doing my dissertation I used to have to hotspot my laptop and we were sometimes without broadband for days.”
Rhys is now able to work from home for an Essex-based utility company, and can join video calls without interruption.
The James’ were also pleasantly surprised that the price of their 100Mbps fibre package was less than they were previously paying, and are now considering getting rid of their landline and replacing it with a digital alternative.
Anne added: “It has benefited the whole family.
“It’s the reliability we need. We never thought that we would get fibre up here to be honest.
“We are not usually the first for anything in Pembrokeshire, and it’s out here that we need it more really. It’s a great thing for rural areas.”
Pembrokeshire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Cllr Paul Miller, said: “We’re determined to ensure all parts of Pembrokeshire have access to full fibre broadband and when we say everyone, we mean everyone.
“Down a farm track or not, our ambition is to connect every property in Pembrokeshire to a high speed fibre network.
“It’s really pleasing to see teams out, across Pembrokeshire, laying fibre and connecting homes and businesses.”
Michael Armitage, CEO of Broadway Partners said: “Through Pembrokeshire’s Ultrafast Broadband project, we have been given a wonderful opportunity to connect digitally disadvantaged communities across Wales and it is great to see our efforts make a meaningful and tangible difference to people’s lives.
“This is a momentous moment for Hayog farm, and we are pleased to have not only enhanced the productivity of a business but optimised their remote work experience.
“This scheme is a welcome step in bridging the connectivity gap between rural and urban areas, and we look forward to advancing the communities of Herbrandston, Wiston and Slebach, amongst others, in their journey to reaping benefits of ultrafast broadband.”
For more information see; https://www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk/broadband