£130m ferry en route to re­gion

Caernarfon Herald - - NEWS -

A MO­BILE ac­tion plan to im­prove the phone net­works in Wales has been re­vealed – with po­ten­tially big­ger masts and rates re­lief on the way.

The Welsh Gov­ern­ment has pub­lished the plan to help cre­ate the right en­vi­ron­ment to en­cour­age fur­ther in­vest­ment in mo­bile in­fras­truc­ture and to pro­mote innovation in mo­bile tech­nolo­gies.

Al­though mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity is the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the UK Gov­ern­ment, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment is look­ing at the pow­ers that could help en­hance the ser­vice in Wales.

The plan sets out how the Welsh Gov­ern­ment will work to­gether with the mo­bile phone in­dus­try and the reg­u­la­tor to im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity.

Sis­ter paper The Daily Post has been press­ing for im­proved phone ser­vices in their Bet­ter Mo­bile cam­paign.

These were the four main ar­eas they will fo­cus on: ● Plan­ning – Re­search has been com­mis­sioned, due to be com­pleted in the Au­tumn, to in­form changes to per­mit­ted de­vel­op­ment rights for telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment. Plan­ning Pol­icy Wales (PPW) will be re­freshed to high­light the pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship be­tween telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and the econ­omy. This is ex­pected to al­low larger masts in Wales to in­crease cov­er­age. ● Non-do­mes­tic rates – Where ev­i­dence sug­gests that a re­duc­tion in non-do­mes­tic rates would en­cour­age in­vest­ment, the Welsh Gov­ern­ment will con­sider pro­vid­ing non-do­mes­tic rates re­lief on ap­pro­pri­ate mo­bile mast sites. ● Innovation and emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies – The Welsh Gov­ern­ment and mo­bile net­work op­er­a­tors will work to­gether to iden­tify op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­velop and test in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies in Wales, in­clud­ing 5G. ● Ma­jor events and spe­cial projects – Build on work al­ready done at the Royal Welsh Show, where col­lab­o­ra­tive work­ing has re­sulted in a per­ma­nent mast at the show­ground. The Welsh Gov­ern­ment will fa­cil­i­tate re­la­tion­ships be­tween mo­bile net­work op­er­a­tors and ma­jor event or­gan­is­ers

There are par­tic­u­lar chal­lenges in boost­ing mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity in Wales. Data from Of­com on tele­vi­sion masts shows that, be­cause of the coun­try’s to­pog­ra­phy, Wales needs an av­er­age of 67 masts to reach one mil­lion peo­ple, while in Eng­land, to reach the same amount of peo­ple, 12 masts are re­quired ● Julie James,

Min­is­ter for Skills and Sci­min­is­ter for skills and ence Julie James said: science “Mo­bile phone con­nec­tiv­ity is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly im­por­tant for both res­i­dents and busi­nesses.

“We know there are chal­lenges in Wales and that the ser­vice needs to be bet­ter.

“This plan out­lines what we, as a Welsh Gov­ern­ment, can do to help cre­ate the right en­vi­ron­ment to fur­ther im­prove con­nec­tiv­ity in Wales.

“I have to be clear that we do not have the main levers as these rest with the UK Gov­ern­ment and Of­com, and it is im­por­tant to em­pha­sise there is not one sin­gle so­lu­tion to boost­ing mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity.” Hamish Ma­cLeod, di­rec­tor of Mo­bile UK, said: “Mo­bile UK is pleased to see the pub­li­ca­tion of the Welsh Gov­ern­ment’s Mo­bile Ac­tion Plan, which rightly recog­nises the ur­gent need for re­form and iden­ti­fies bar­ri­ers to ef­fec­tive de­ploy­ment of mo­bile in­fras­truc­ture.

“The Mo­bile Ac­tion Plan com­mits the Welsh Gov­ern­ment to work with the mo­bile in­dus­try, Of­com and oth­ers to de­liver ef­fec­tive re­form.

“The chal­lenge now is to re­alise this am­bi­tion and im­ple­ment the pro­pos­als promptly.” THIS £130m ferry will en­ter ser­vice next sum­mer on the route be­tween Holy­head and Dublin.

The ves­sel, which has been named W. B. Yeats after the Ir­ish lit­er­ary gi­ant, is set to be de­liv­ered to Ir­ish Fer­ries in July.

Weigh­ing 55,000 tonnes, it will carry 1,885 pas­sen­gers and crew, has 440 cab­ins in­clud­ing suites with bal­conies, and al­most 3km of car deck space.

It will en­ter year-round ser­vice on the Dublin– Holy­head and Ire­land– France routes, though the ex­act timetable has not yet been agreed.

Fa­cil­i­ties will in­clude a club class lounge, á la carte and self-ser­vice restau­rants, cin­ema, shops, bars and lounges, ex­clu­sive ar­eas for freight driv­ers and fa­cil­i­ties for pets.

The name was cho­sen after it had drawn strong sup­port from the pub­lic in a com­pe­ti­tion that at­tracted nearly 100,000 en­tries from both sides of the Ir­ish Sea.

The ves­sel will be de­liv­ered next sum­mer

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