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Four Blaenau Gwent towns have become the first communities in South Wales to receive fibre broadband as part of the Superfast Cymru rollout.

Homes and businesses in Abertillery, Cwm, Ebbw Vale and Tredegar can now take advantage of super-fast broadband as a result of network upgrades in the area.

More than 17,000 premises are already able to access fibre broadband, and when the local infrastructure work is completed, this will rise to 26,000.

Another 7,000 properties will gain access to Superfast Cymru fibre broadband when engineers begin work in Brynmawr and Blaina later this year.

The rollout is being co-funded by the Welsh Government and BT, in a bid to improve broadband coverage in poorly-served areas of the country.

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, said the Superfast Cymru programme continues to make "excellent progress" in connecting Welsh homes and businesses.

"I'm delighted that Blaenau Gwent is to become the first area in South Wales to experience the many benefits of improved connectivity," he stated.

Mr Skates noted that the town is already home to the Welsh Government-led Ebbw Vale Enterprise Zone, where ministers are trying to provide the "best possible conditions" for businesses to succeed.

"Access to fast, reliable broadband will only further our efforts to help the wider business community, attracting all-important investment and opening the door to so many commercial opportunities," he added.

Ed Hunt, BT's Programme Director for Superfast Cymru, explained that the firm's own commercial rollout has already given access to fibre broadband to more than 550,000 homes and businesses in Wales.

He said the ongoing public/private initiative - which he described as an "ambitious project" - is set to "significantly boost those numbers".

"Fibre broadband can provide a multitude of opportunities for families to explore new horizons that will enrich their lives while it will enable businesses to grow and compete on a level playing field with competitors anywhere in the world," Mr Hunt claimed.

He added that fibre broadband is also making "big inroads" in North Wales through the Superfast Cymru project.

"By the end of the year people living in Hirwaun, Mountain Ash, Ogmore Valley, Pentyrch and Rhiwderin will also be able to see the benefits of this big jump in internet speeds as fibre broadband reaches them," Mr Hunt stated.

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