It's time for Carmarthenshire to see the benefits of city region connectivity – that was the message from Plaid Cymru representatives Adam Price AM and Jonathan Edwards MP after ultrafast 'GFast' internet was announced for Swansea.
Ultrafast broadband provides download speeds of up to 330Mbps - more than 10 times the UK national average. Swansea is one of 17 areas across the UK to be chosen as a pilot location for the new technology.
On the same day that GFast internet was announced, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond delivered his Autumn Statement calling for cities to bid for a 5G mobile phone signal pilot scheme.
Mr Price and Mr Edwards said west Wales communities could be transformed by the broadband and mobile connectivity that Swansea enjoys right now. They called for the connectivity inequality to end and not be entrenched.
Member of Parliament Jonathan Edwards said:
"There has been little to no digital dividend for rural Carmarthenshire from the hundreds of millions of pounds which have been spent on broadband to date, with over 40% of my constituents unable to access high speed internet, and an even greater proportion unable to get a 3G or 4G mobile phone signal.
"It is absolutely vital that future investment, at a bare minimum, enables west Wales to reach a level playing field before our nation's cities take an even greater step forward with supersonic speeds. The connectivity inequality in our nation needs to be eradicated not entrenched.
"It's with this inequality in mind that I want the Swansea Bay City Region to accept the Chancellor's Autumn Statement invitation to bid for 5G mobile phone signals and start with rural west Wales.
"At the same time, the GFast internet must incorporate the whole of the city region.
"Supersonic speeds for Swansea will be small comfort to residents of Carmarthenshire who face daily struggles in getting online. It's time for the whole region to benefit."
Assembly Member Adam Price added:
"As with most projects, broadband has been delivered to the easy-to-reach areas first in order for the Welsh and UK Governments to hail their level of progress. All the while the rural hinterland has been left behind with, I'm afraid to say, a continuing inertia in delivery.
"I want the City Region Board to bid for 5G technology, but be bold and reject the simple option of hitting the largest number of people first.
"The communities of west Wales could be transformed by the broadband and mobile connectivity that Swansea already enjoys. So, let's see the proposed trailblazing technology revolutionise the economy of west Wales.
"With the vision and temerity to reject the easy option, Carmarthenshire can have a world-leading economy with our residents and businesses enjoying world-beating connectivity. It's time for our communities to really see the benefits of the city region."