“The steps to extend fast broadband in Wales cannot be made soon enough,” says CLA Director, Rebecca Williams, “And we have to make sure that the result delivers the service that farms and rural businesses really need to function in a world in which online communication is critical.”
In December 2017 the UK Government confirmed that universal high-speed broadband will be delivered by a regulatory Universal Service Obligation (USO). Rebecca Williams added, “The challenges of rolling-out fast, reliable and affordable rural broadband are well-known. The measures announced by the Welsh Government include a new roll-out scheme which is out-to-tender, backed by funding of £80m. This is welcome as it is critical that Welsh rural communities gain the service they need and deserve – and the Government’s ambition is realised.
“In this area Wales lags behind other parts of the UK – and it is the rural community and economy which suffers. The devolved nations lag behind even the poorly-served English rural areas. We have learned that while superfast broadband coverage in England is 92 per cent, the equivalent figure for the other nations varies between 85 per cent and 89 per cent. Some 3 per cent of premises in England do not have access to acceptable broadband, the equivalent figure for the other nations varies between 5-7 per cent.”
Rebecca Williams continues, “I have written to the Welsh Government, willing to discuss how we can ensure the Superfast Cymru project can meet the USO goal. We must make sure rural communities are not let-down.