Wales Office Minister, David Jones has today welcomed the announcement that BT has secured a contract to help take broadband to 96 per cent of homes and businesses in Wales.
It follows last year’s announcement by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt that HM Government was providing the the Welsh Government with a £57mn share of the broadband investment fund. The Welsh Government was tasked with match-funding the investment and deciding how to best use it to support the roll-out of broadband across the country.
First Minister Carwyn Jones today announced that telecommunications giant BT has secured the contract to provide next generation broadband services across Wales and, with infrastructure work due to be completed by 2015, it is expected that service providers will be able to offer a broadband service 15 times faster than is currently available.
This latest positive announcement for Wales also comes in the week that HM Government announced plans to electrify the Great Western mainline to Swansea and the Valley Lines, adding to Wales’ credentials as an investment location.
Welcoming the announcement, Wales Office Minister, David Jones said:
“Last year HM Government provided the Welsh Government with almost £57mn to invest in improving broadband connectivity in Wales. I am pleased the Welsh Government has finally decided how to spend this money, matched with funding of its own.
“This has been an important week for Wales and the efforts of both the UK and Welsh Governments in working together to improve the infrastructure we need for economic growth.
“HM Government firmly believes that broadband is essential, not only for everyday life, but also for the economic success of the UK. By having access to ultrafast broadband, businesses can expand, develop new markets, create the jobs we need and compete with others around the world. It also allows local communities in the most rural areas of Wales to access public services more quickly and efficiently online.
“Funds of up to £12 million have been granted for the already announced Cardiff broadband ‘super-connected city’ project, benefiting up to 142,000 residents and 10,000 businesses. There has also been an additional £50million announced for funding the UK for a second wave of another 10 super-connected cities, that Swansea and Newport are eligible to bid for.
“However, helping the rural economy is just as important and remains a priority for this Government. The Wales Office’s rural economy taskforce report found that access to reliable broadband was one of the main concerns faced by farmers and rural businesses in Wales and many of the respondents complained of slow, inconsistent speeds or non-existent connections. This announcement today will help ensure that businesses in even the most rural parts of Wales can continue to thrive.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
The Government wants the UK to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, with 90 per cent of homes and businesses across every local authority area having access to superfast broadband and for everyone in the UK to have access to at least 2Mbps.
The Culture Secretary announced in May that Swansea and Newport are eligible to bid for a share of a £50million funding pot designed to help them roll out ultrafast broadband and become a super-connected city. This is the second round of funding available, with ten of the UK’s largest cities, including Cardiff, already working on detailed plans to upgrade their networks.