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Wednesday August 23rd, 2023

Satellite Connection for South Stack

A popular Anglesey beauty spot gets super-fast mobile connection as part of an initiative led by Menter Môn Morlais Ltd. Thanks to a partnership between the Anglesey tidal energy scheme, Virgin Media O2, and the Welsh Government, South Stack – once notorious for its lack of mobile reception – has become one of the first places in the UK to benefit from new satellite technology.

A lack of mobile and data connectivity often made life difficult for businesses in the area, as well as for tourists. And, with the work on Morlais progressing on site, there was an even greater need to ensure good connectivity. A stable mobile network was needed to support the construction team and to facilitate the monitoring of marine wildlife. The recently installed Starlink satellite technology does just that, brining reliable high-speed mobile connection to this part of Holy Island.

Gareth Roberts is Operations Lead at Morlais. He said: “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to make this happen at South Stack and that we were able to work with Virgin Media O2 to improve local mobile connection. As we’ve been working to develop Morlais tidal energy, we’ve found the lack of connectivity to be limiting so pushed to connect the area to the mobile network.

“The new technology is essential as we monitor marine wildlife off the coast of Holy Island, and it also means workers on the substation construction site have a reliable mobile service. An added benefit is that businesses and visitors can now access their data and mobile services here, too – it’s something we all rely on so much, including for safety.”

Despite positive developments in terms of connectivity across Wales, rural areas still trail behind urban centres, with negative impacts on the local economy. South Stack is no different. Traditionally, a fibre cable is required to carry calls, SMS, and data to phone masts, but this is impossible in more remote locations. Using Stralink low-earth orbit satellites, mobile network providers can connect rural spots to the mobile network which helps bridge these gaps.

Wales’s Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething MS, said: “It’s great to see Virgin Media O2 and Wavemobile continue to invest in R&D in Wales, supporting the Morlais tidal energy project and addressing a historically challenging mobile notspot. Bringing reliable 4G connectivity to the area will not only dramatically improve the mobile signal for the local community, businesses, and visitors, but using satellite technology will also ensure the development does not negatively impact marine wildlife.”

Work on the Morlais landfall substation near South Stack is nearing completion and cabling to the grid connection site at nearby Parc Cybi is already finished. The first turbines are expected to be deployed in the sea by 2026. This will see clean low carbon electricity generated at the site. With a potential to scale up to a generating capacity of 240MW, new technology allows for Morlais to be developed gradually whilst continuously monitoring its impact on marine wildlife.

Morlaisfunded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. It is also supported by the Isle of Anglesey County Council, North Wales Growth Deal, as well as The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

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