North Wales Growth Deal Makes Progress on 4G Mobile Upgrade Plan

The North Wales Economic Ambition Board (NWEAB) has approved the business case for their new 4G+ project, which is more widely investing £8.9m from the North Wales Growth Deal in order to improve the availability of mobile voice and data services, as well as full fibre broadband, to key commercial sites and transport networks.

The 4G+ (Connected Key Sites and Corridors) project forms part of the North Wales Growth Deal’s Digital Programme, which back in 2022 worked with FarrPoint to conduct a survey that measured 4G mobile (mobile broadband) coverage across the region’s main transport routes (here) – primarily A and B roads. This helped to identify a number of weak points for improvement.

Since then, the NWEAB has developed a business case (OBC) for the project, which covers the planning phase and identifies options which deliver public value following detailed appraisals. The good news is that the OBC for 4G+ has now been approved, although the specifics of precisely what it will deliver remain unclear.

Alongside improving mobile network coverage, the project also aims to support the migration to 5G, deliver jobs and attract investment.

Mark Pritchard, Councillor and Lead Member for Digital Connectivity on the NWAB, said:

“The impact of mobile connectivity on the economy is well established and shouldn’t be underestimated. Our city and town centres, business parks and communities all need good mobile connectivity, and that demand will continue to grow, as it is across the rest of the country.

Approval of this penultimate stage before delivery is an important milestone. As well as supporting national and regional economic strategies, improving mobile connectivity and capacity has to be part of our efforts to increase local GVA and create jobs.”

One gripe we have with the “Digital” side of all these Growth Deals is that they can take an exceedingly long time to go from planning to deployment, during which time a lot can happen that may change the original base case assumptions (e.g. improvements in network coverage and technologies etc.).

The latest decision means the project can now move to develop a “full business case“, which is said to be the “final phase in the process to secure Growth Deal funding before delivery“. Hopefully it won’t take them another full year just to get that done.

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