From a family run micro-brewery in Newport to an exhibition events company in Chepstow, Wales Office Minister Stephen Crabb will today (18 October) see how securing access to high-speed broadband is changing the fortunes of Welsh businesses.
The UK Government has provided the Welsh Government with almost £57 million to help improve broadband in Wales. The Welsh Government was tasked with match-funding the investment and announced in July that BT has secured a contract to help take broadband to 96 per cent of homes and businesses in Wales.
Mr Crabb will today visit companies in St Hilary in the Vale of Glamorgan, Newport and Chepstow that are demonstrating the real, tangible economic benefits of having access to high-speed broadband.
Mr Crabb said:
“Improving Wales’s communications infrastructure is vital to grow our economy and compete on a global scale.
“Having access to ultrafast broadband will let businesses expand and develop new markets, creating the jobs we need. It will also allow rural Welsh communities to access public services more quickly and efficiently online.
“The funding invested into broadband provision is a clear demonstration that both the UK and Welsh Governments are working together and taking the necessary action to ensure that Wales has a broadband network fit for the digital age.”
First, Mr Crabb will meet with BT’s Director for Wales, Ann Beynon, to discuss the company’s plans for the broadband roll-out.
Then Mr Crabb will be accompanied on a visit to St Hilary in the Vale of Glamorgan by Simon Mawer, the managing director of Caerphilly - based internet service provider, Konek-T. The company has launched its first service in the Vale, delivering broadband speeds of up to 20mbps.
They will visit the owners of the local Bush Inn public house who will explain how they are benefitting from Konek-T’s new service.
Mr Crabb will then travel to Newport where he will visit the ‘Tiny Rebel Brewery’ company - a family-run micro-brewery which cited having access to high speed broadband as a key catalyst to their success.
Mr Crabb will be accompanied by the Managing Director of Cardiff-based Spectrum Internet, Giles Phelps , who provided the the brewery with the broadband access which has helped it expand its markets, recruit more staff, and relocate to larger premises.
Finally, Mr Crabb will visit On Screen Productions in Chepstow and will hear from its director, Richard Cobourne about how improvements made to its broadband access has helped the company to grow and to expand into overseas markets.
The UK Government is also creating a number of super-connected cities that will allow them to compete with the world’s top digital cities and attract new investment and jobs.
Culture Secretary, Maria Miller recently announced that Cardiff will receive £11.9m of super-connected city funding, and it is hoped that bids from Newport and Swansea in the second round will result in further funding for Wales.
Mr Crabb added:
“I am really encouraged to hear how improvements to broadband provision are having a tangible effect on business productivity in Wales. Broadband is essential - not only for linking communities - but also for the future economic success of Wales and we continue to work in collaboration with the Welsh Government to deliver it.
“Last month, the Culture Secretary announced the UK Government’s intention to implement a package of measures to help fast track the introduction of broadband in the UK, with a streamlined planning process. While these proposals will only apply in England, we are keen to work with the Welsh Government to determine whether similar improvements can be introduced in Wales.
“Both Governments share the ambition of having the best broadband infrastructure in Europe. Having the processes in place to make the installation of broadband infrastructure easier and quicker will go some way to helping us achieve this goal. I want my visits today to highlight how super-fast broadband has the potential to help and contribute to our economy in the future. “