The UK government has given Welsh broadband a boost, with a cash allocation of nearly £57 million
Wales has been allocated £56.9 million by the UK government to improve its broadband infrastructure, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced on Tuesday.
The money comes out of the government’s £530 million broadband investment fund, which was announced in October 2010. The investment will help deliver at least 2Mbps broadband to everyone in the country and ‘superfast’ broadband (at least 24Mbps) to 90 percent of homes and businesses.
“Superfast broadband is essential if businesses are to grow and create new jobs. It is increasingly important for the way we deliver public services and to our everyday lives,” said culture secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured).
“But some areas of the UK are being left behind. Many rural and hard-to-reach communities do not have decent broadband access. We must ensure the whole country can join the digital age,” he added.
Welsh Assembly support
The Welsh government has pledged to match the £57 million investment, and Hunt has urged anyone in Wales who is suffering as a result of slow Internet connections to tell their Welsh Assembly Member, to ensure that they are not left behind.
A survey published by the regulator Ofcom last week proved what many people already knew – that Wales is one of the worst served areas of the UK for broadband. Pwllheli and surrounding areas of North Wales have already benefited from the Welsh Assembly’s national delivery plan, which received £10 million of government funding for broadband in February.
The Welsh government has also extended eligibility for its Broadband Support Scheme, so that residents and businesses in Wales can apply for grants of up to £1,000 to invest in alternative technology for faster broadband in ‘slowspots’ and ‘notspots’.
“Boosting economic growth in Wales is my number one priority,” said Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan on Tuesday. “Today’s announcement will ensure broadband take-up and speed can be significantly improved, benefitting individuals and businesses.”
Best broadband network by 2015
The government wants the UK to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, with 90 percent of homes and businesses in each local authority area having access to superfast broadband and for everyone in the UK to have access to at least 2Mbps.
The funding allocation for each country is based on the cost of taking superfast broadband to those premises that would not receive it from the market alone. Pilots have been launched in North Yorkshire, the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, Cumbria.
In May, Ministers freed up a further £49 million to help push superfast broadband into Wiltshire, Norfolk, Devon, and Somerset. These areas were chosen from 18 bids looking to get a slice of the £530 million ear-marked for new projects. Devon and Somerset is to get the lion’s share (£30 million), Norfolk will get £15 million, and Wiltshire will get £4 million.