A BUSINESS forum leading on digital connectivity is spelling out exactly why the region needs at least £120m to make it digitally connected and see economic growth.

Deeside Business Forum (DBF) has been campaigning to deliver the significant socio-economic benefits of full fibre connectivity to North Wales.

It aims to connect all buildings with ultrafast connectivity, and to establish the region as the most attractive location for business growth and investment.

In May, the forum stated that in order to create highly-skilled well-paying jobs for the area, digital connectivity has to be the number one priority of the North Wales Growth Deal.

Currently North Wales is one of the worst regions in the UK for digital connectivity. Businesses based in the area who want to compete on a national and international level can be hampered by bills of around £700 per month for a 100 Meg lease line fibre-based broadband.

Full fibre is an internet connection that is entirely served by a fibre optic cable, from the exchange all the way to your house. This is known as Fibre To The Premises (FTTP).

This process, known as Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC), can offer a speed increase but ultimately it’s putting a plaster over the problem, which is that the internet is still being served by a copper cable.

Full fibre will see everything replaced with fibre optic cabling. This would futureproof our internet and allow homes to experience internet speeds of up to 1Gbps (1,000Mbps).

To give an idea of how quick that is, Virgin Media’s FAST connection at 362Mbps, can download a HD movie in two minutes, or an entire album in three seconds.

DBF has revealed figures that demonstrate why this project needs a minimum of £120m, not the £34m currently allocated.

Laying fibre for ultrafast connectivity costs between £40 and £100 per metre. Taking a below average cost of between £50.92 and £50.93 per metre, it would cost £120m to connect all of North Wales’ 2,375.90km of A and B roads.

Altogether, including C and minor surfaced roads, North Wales has a total of 9,732.40km of road, which would cost in excess of £495m to install with fibre.

Askar Sheibani, chair of DBF, explained: “DBF has 2,500 plus businesses from North Wales and North West England on its books.

“The reason we will keep campaigning for full fibre ultrafast connectivity for the region is because we have the best interests of our businesses and communities at heart, and this is what they need.

“They need the best connectivity speeds possible so they can develop and compete and keep providing high quality jobs for the people of North Wales.

“We hope these figures make it crystal clear why digital connectivity needs as much capital from the North Wales Growth Deal as it is possible to invest.”

Mr Sheibani announced earlier this month that a team of experts on digital connectivity is being put together to advise the North Wales Growth Deal’s administrators North Wales Economic Ambition Board.

DBF has been campaigning to improve digital connectivity in North Wales for some years, organising several well-attended conferences on the subject. February 2018’s conference, ‘Full Fibre Digital Connectivity for North Wales’, was the first UK-based fibre connectivity conference organised exclusively to advance the knowledge of attendees on the socio-economic benefits of full fibre broadband in North Wales.