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Rural broadband specialists to unveil blueprint for fibre rollout in Letterston

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Plans to bring fibre broadband to Letterston and surrounding areas as part of a rollout to more than 10,500 homes across North Pembrokeshire are to be detailed at an event by a Carmarthen-based rural broadband specialist.

Voneus Broadband will be hosting a community drop-in session at Letterston Memorial Hall on 7 June between 1pm and 8pm to showcase its plan to hook-up the village to a gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connection.

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Residents will have the chance to ask any questions about the project, look at equipment which will be used in the home upon installation, and meet the local team who will be helping throughout the process.

Voneus, which already serves communities across five counties in Wales, is working towards installing the new FTTP network later this year.

The connection will provide matching upload and download speeds of up to 1000Mbps and Voice over Internet Protocol capabilities to businesses and homes across the village, as well as community sites such as Ysgol Ger y Llan.

The drop-in session marks the next stage in the process to bring FTTP broadband to Letterston, whose residents started a campaign in 2019 to improve broadband in the village.

Letterston Community Councillor Andy Adams said: “So many residents in Letterston are over the moon about how much of a massive difference to the village’s broadband this rollout will make, and how Voneus is finally making it happen.

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“Other providers had told us it would take until 2026 for a rollout to even begin, but with many residents of the village working from home and struggling to complete basic tasks like receiving emails due to the poor speeds, we could not wait any longer.

“This installation will be a huge boost for the residents and local economy, and just goes to show what rural communities can achieve when they set their minds to it and how they shouldn’t give up hope of bringing fast, reliable broadband to their own area.

“The Community Council and residents are thankful to Voneus for sticking with us to deliver this vital service.”

The rollout is projected to help boost speeds across the region, with just 11.6 per cent of households in Pembrokeshire having access to ultra-fast broadband speeds of more than 100Mbps according to the most recent Ofcom data.

The build in Pembrokeshire forms one part of Voneus’ commitment to connecting more than 51,000 homes across South and West Wales to future-proof, gigabit-capable broadband across the next 24 months.

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Andrew Phillips, team leader for Voneus’ Welsh community engagement team, said: “Having grown up in the county as well as having worked hard to bring solutions to hard-to-reach communities like Letterston, it is clear there is a massive demand for better broadband speeds in Pembrokeshire, which is why these events are vital.

“Our drop-in session aims to give local people a chance to meet us and learn all about what it is we do, as well as ask any questions they may have about bringing fibre broadband into their homes and businesses.

“We are committed to ensuring no one is penalised just because of where they live when it comes to broadband, and engaging communities like Letterston is an integral part to ensuring we all are working to bring about a better-connected tomorrow.”

Lead image: Members of the Carmarthen-based Voneus team who will be assisting in helping bring gigabit-capable fibre to Letterston. Back (L-R): Tinashe Kaseke and team leader Andrew Phillips. Front (L-R): Lisa Jenkins, Susie Pitcher, and Adam Stockwell-Price.

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Arts and Entertainment

Parents warning over ‘Huggy Wuggy’ teddy bear videos that sing of hugging and killing

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Parents are being urged not to let their children watch terrifying TikTok and YouTube videos of killer teddy ‘Huggy Wuggy’

The warning, from SAMHI Suicide Prevention and Awareness Initiative has been echoed by Police forces around the country.

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Looking like a horror version of a Sesame Street puppet, Huggy Wuggy is not aimed at children. He’s a character from an adult online game known as Poppy’s Playtime.

Poppy Playtime was created by MOB Games and is a horror survival game. Huggy Wuggy is one of the main villains and appears as a furry blue monster with razor sharp teeth.

But as the game has becomes a viral hit, the characters have appeared in numerous stand-alone YouTube, Roblox and TikTok videos.

One of the most popular videos features the teddy bear, singing about “hugging and killing” and asks those watching to “take their last breath”.

Police have issued a warning over the character after some kids have been seen recreating the bear’s actions on the playground.

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One line says: “I could hug you here forever, til you breathe your last breath together.”
It continues: “My teeth sharp and ready, in my grasp, yeah they’re deadly”.

The blue bear also invites people to “lean in for a spine-breaking embrace”.

In issuing the warning, the SAMHI Suicide Prevention and Awareness Initiative say: “If your child hasn’t mentioned Huggy Wuggy or Poppy Playtime, don’t name it. You may pique their curiosity which in turn could lead to them searching out the content for themselves on platforms they might have access to.

“If you hear a child in your care mention Huggy Wuggy, pause and remain calm. It could be that they have overheard conversation about in school or online, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have viewed content or have a full understanding of who Huggy Wuggy is.

“Ask them about the content they enjoy watching online, and if anything they’ve seen has ever made them or their friends upset or scared.

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“If they have seen anything upsetting, reassure them that they are safe. It’s important children know they can come and speak to you without fear of judgement. If necessary, ask them to show you the video or game, and follow appropriate reporting procedures if you are concerned.

“If your child is having nightmares or is anxious about something they’ve watched, it’s important to have a conversation about expressing their feelings.”

(Lead image: YouTube)

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Technology

£67k contract win with leading power tools specialists for Swansea’s Uplands Communications

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Uplands Communications is celebrating a major contract win to the tune of £67k, having closed a deal with a division of Techtronic Industries EMEA Ltd.

The deal sees the Swansea-headquartered telephony specialists supply connectivity for more than 130 users.

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Techtronic owns brands including Ryobi, Milwaukee and AEG. The company enjoyed record 2021 worldwide sales of US$13.2 billion and has more than 51,000 employees.

Paul Hooper, MD of Uplands Communications, which is based in Swansea, said: “We are pleased to forge a new partnership with Techtronic Industries EMEA Ltd, a leaders in its field which is committed to ensuring its customers receive the best experience whenever they interact with the business.

“The past two years have been challenging for businesses across all industries, including for telephony and communications, and, of course for construction and for their supply chain colleagues.

“However, we are seeing, across the board, companies becoming increasingly aware of the need to make sure their communications are in the best shape possible and are modern and fit for purpose.

“The pandemic has brought about a sea-change in the way consumers and businesses interact with each other. Carefully-tailored telephone and communications solutions are more essential than ever if businesses want to thrive.”

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Natasha Russell, Financial Accountant at Techtronic said: “We operate a multi-million pound operation across a range of products and sites and we deal with a broad customer base – both commercial and domestic.

“The solution we sought from Uplands will give us a more seamless billing functionality and smoother processes, as well as more robust day-to-day support. We are pleased to enter into an agreement with Uplands Communications and we look forward to our ongoing relationship with them.”

Uplands Communications, based at Swansea Enterprise Park, is a leading managed services company delivering flexible voice, data and mobile communications.

The firm, which has its HQ in Swansea and an office in Somerset, specialises in independent network management and providing bespoke, converged solutions that aren’t tied to technology and supplier.

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New report reveals Swansea would see ‘very high benefit’ from full 5G rollout – but Government policy and regulation changes needed first

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Swansea features in a new report that identifies 58 local authority areas which would see a high or very high benefit from a good investment environment for 5G – and which would fall further behind if investment continues to be limited to major cities.

The new Vodafone research shows that current regulatory and policy environment around full 5G could see UK missing out on £7bn worth of economic benefits.

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Failure to make the UK attractive as a place for investment in future 5G technology will cause the UK economy to miss out on up to £7bn a year. Towns and smaller cities will be the ones to miss out most in the current regulatory and policy environment, according to new research commissioned by Vodafone.

The benefits of full 5G – developing high capacity, standalone infrastructure rather than building on top of existing 4G equipment – are enormous, especially for industrial uses such as smart factories, and public services such as hospitals which will require ultra-reliable and ultra-low-latency communications.

However, this all depends on significant investment across all parts of the country, and the report warns that the difference between an attractive and an unattractive investment environment is worth £7bn a year to the UK economy by 2030 – most of it seen outside London and other major cities.

The biggest cities, which have the biggest populations and are most commercially attractive to investors, previously saw the fastest 4G roll-out and are now well-positioned to attract investment in 5G. But smaller cities and medium-sized towns are at risk of missing out if the changes aren’t made quickly.

The report makes a series of recommendations which would help to support investment in full 5G across the UK, including:

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  • The Government should publish an updated 5G strategy which sets out specific ambitions for the roll-out of full 5G networks.
  • Ofcom should be open minded about market consolidation when it publishes its review into the mobile market this summer.
  • Government should use its procuring power to create market demand in 5G related services. For example, the installation of smart energy management systems in all public buildings would reduce emissions in those buildings, expand interest in, and the market for, these systems elsewhere, and save money on energy bills.
  • Planning rules need to be set in such a way that they do not stop 5G infrastructure from being rolled out where it is needed and wanted.
  • The business rates system needs to avoid deterring investment in high-value infrastructure.
  • Net neutrality regulations should enable mobile operators to maximise demand by offering consumers attractive propositions that make use of the full technological capabilities of 5G.
  • The approach to annual spectrum fees needs to change so that fees can be reinvested in network deployment instead of being ripped out of the industry.

Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s UK CEO, said: “5G technology enables both massive innovation and operational efficiencies, especially for industrial uses such as smart factories, and public services such as hospitals which will require ultra-reliable and ultra-low-latency communications.

“But the benefits of this will not be felt equally across the UK in the current regulatory and policy environment – we have to ensure the UK can attract investment in future technologies.

“5G roll-out can be a major boost to Levelling Up, or it can leave some places falling further behind: it all depends on getting the investment environment right.

“As our research reveals, there is a £7bn a year difference between getting this wrong and getting this right. The UK – and in particular our smaller towns and cities – risks missing out on the incredible benefits that the 5G revolution can deliver.

“It’s not too late to create an investment-friendly environment, so we can all benefit from this powerful technology.”

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