Wyddfa summit to become highest point with full fire broadband as cable laid along train route
Engineers have started work to bring ultrafast fibre broadband along the train route to the summit of Yr Wyddfa in time for next year’s summer season.
The mammoth engineering task will involve running the 1 Gigabits per second (Gbps) capable infrastructure from the nearest exchange in Llanberis all the way to the summit of Wales’ highest mountain.
Openreach engineers will be working closely with the Snowdon Mountain Railway to run seven kilometres of fibre cable along the railway that carries nearly 150,000 passengers to the top of the popular tourist destination every year.
Once completed the mountain standing at 1,085 metres will be the highest point in the UK with Full Fibre connectivity. The Snowdon Summit Café, which has remained closed since 2019 as a result of the Covid lockdown, will benefit from the improved connectivity as visitors will be able to pay for goods using contactless.
Among those local residents that have already benefited from this work are the Morris family that live in the highest house in Wales – nearly halfway up Yr Wyddfa. With little to no connectivity before ultrafast broadband was delivered by Openreach, the technology has been an early Christmas gift game-changer for the family.
Eira Morris, said: “We live off-grid and have never had a telephone landline.
“For 20 years we have had to stand at a window to answer mobile phone calls. Living in the heart of the National Park putting up telegraph poles for a landline was never an option, regulations here did not allow it.
“Having the fastest fibre optic broadband is some kind of miracle. Thanks to Openreach, the engineering team and staff members working in very challenging conditions to get it to Yr Wyddfa. We are extremely grateful for this”
It’s also hoped that the improved connectivity will play a vital role in assisting search and rescue teams that are frequently called upon to find lost or injured walkers on Yr Wyddfa.
Every year more than 600,000 walkers make their way to the top of Yr Wyddfa and traditionally search and rescue teams have to rely on radio signal to communicate with one another on the mountain when searching for those that need help.
This method of radio communication can be impacted by heavy fog. When the Full Fibre infrastructure is in place on the top of the Wyddfa it’s hoped that a small 5G point will be installed that will significantly improve how search and rescue teams can communicate in the future.
The new ultrafast and reliable broadband connection will also mean that search and rescue teams will be able to access vital real-time data, such as accurate localised weather forecasts, which could help save valuable time in a rescue operation, and potentially lives.
Suzanne Rutherford, Chief Engineer for Wales, said: “To say that bringing Full Fibre to the top of the Wyddfa is a huge task is an understatement.
“You just have to look at the sheer scale of Yr Wyddfa to appreciate how big a job this is for our engineers and that’s before you even take into consideration weather conditions.
“We’re all extremely proud at Openreach of the work we’re doing to not only bring Full Fibre to what will be the highest point across all of the UK but also the improved connectivity that it will bring for visitors to the summit, families that live under the shadow of Yr Wyddfa and of course how our technology could potentially save lives.”
Marty Druce, Railway Operations Manager at Snowdon Mountain Railway, said: “Full fibre broadband to the summit will be extremely beneficial for us as a business and will greatly improve communications from Llanberis to Hafod Eryri on the summit of Snowdon, Yr Wyddfa.
“It will be hugely beneficial to the local community, visitors and rescue services, with improved connectivity on the mountain.
“Our operations team here at Snowdon Mountain Railway are more than happy to assist in the logistical transportation for the Local Openreach engineers, fibre and equipment along the route of Snowdon.”
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