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Ogi invests millions in new digital superhighway

Pictured: The Prince of Wales Bridge

Wales’s largest alternative network provider – Ogi – is set to bring high-capacity connectivity to Wales, in a multimillion-pound project, utilising the Welsh Government-owned M4 motorway and trunk road network.

A new concession agreement held between the Welsh Government and Ogi is set to see the Welsh infrastructure provider bring new dark fibre and microduct products into the south east region of Wales, boosting capacity and resilience for the likes of carriers, hyper-scalers, datacentres and Internet Service Providers looking to expand across Wales, England and Ireland.

Once finished early next year [2024] the new network will be capable of moving Petabits (millions of Gigabits) of data, boosting Wales’s economic offer, as emerging sectors like fintech, cyber security, film, broadcasting, game development and datacentres look to expand along the M4 corridor.

Engineers working on the rollout are utilising the latest micro-trenching technology, rapidly cutting enough space for the ducts – making re-instating the road surface much faster and less carbon intensive than traditional methods, minimising disruption to traffic on one of the busiest stretches of the motorway network.

Once in operation, the dark fibre and microduct network will provide a new route into Europe’s largest datacentre campus – Vantage in Newport – improving the resilience and diversity available in and out of Wales.

The final phase of the initial programme will see new infrastructure capacity to transfer Petabits of information installed across the Prince of Wales Bridge, though Newport and into Vantage Data Centre, providing new options to connect to exchange points and datacentres in Bristol and onward to Slough and London.

Already a household name in Wales, Ogi propelled onto the scene in 2021, with a £200 million privately backed plan to bring full fibre connectivity to some of the most underserved parts of the country.

From commuter towns in Caerphilly and Rhondda Cynon Taf, to rural Pembrokeshire, the provider has accelerated its growth over the last three years with its own Internet Service Provider (ISP) brand ‘Ogi’ becoming the largest alternative telecoms and broadband choice in Wales.

Speaking about the concession agreement, Minister for the Economy of Wales, Vaughan Gething MS, said: “This is a major boost for Wales, at a time when we’re seeing increasing demand for high-capacity connectivity – not only in the business sector, but across our public services too.

“The contract with Ogi means Wales can confidently attract data driven businesses, bringing new highly skilled jobs to the region. This can only be good news for the Welsh economy – especially for emerging sectors like fintech, science, cyber security and our thriving creative sectors, such as broadcasting and game design who are already looking to base themselves here.”

Announcing the plans at Wales Tech Week, Ogi’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Allwright, said: “With established data centres – like Newport’s Vantage Data Centre – and increasing interest from data hungry sectors like fintech looking to scale in Wales, now’s the time to bring this diversity and high-capacity resilience into south Wales.

“The big data age is here. With our data consumption set to double every two years, there’s a need for more datacentres, more capacity and, ultimately, a resilient network that can carry it all. This unique contract between Ogi and the Welsh Government is the very bedrock of Wales’s digital revolution; a high-capacity route capable of moving data fast and reliably, side-by-side with bringing highly skilled jobs and greater prosperity to Wales.”

Managing Director of broadcast production company Whisper Cymru, Carys Owens, added: “This is great news for Wales and for thriving sectors like the broadcast sector. As we create new boundaries in high-quality content production here in Wales, the need for high-capacity, reliable connectivity – and diversity of networks – is fundamental.

“There used to be a perception that you have to leave south Wales to work on major projects in the creative industries, but our work shows that’s not the case. We’re delighted to be working with Channel 4 to remote produce its coverage of next summer’s Paris Paralympics from Cardiff, but securing this has been enabled by [Ogi’s] investment in digital infrastructure delivering game-changing services such as 25Gbps broadband connectivity which was not only a first in Wales but the wider UK.

“It’s great to see Ogi and the Welsh Government working together. It’s what really sets Wales apart; this ability for public and private partnerships to make a difference for the whole nation. And this news is exciting because it’s not just about connectivity, but opens up the potential to bring more investment, more skills and more opportunities to the country. It’s a huge leap forward for industries like the creative sector and tech – and will really give us a competitive edge.”

The first phase programme is expected to be complete in early 2024, with Ogi commercialising the route, initially offering a combination of dark fibre and microduct products to the likes of carriers, hyper-scalers and datacentres, with a wider product offering to follow.