Broadband 'crucial' to rural life, says Welsh taskforce

Cables Rural communities are more broadband-reliant, says Wales Office Minister David Jones

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Lack of an adequate broadband connection is among the biggest frustrations for rural communities, says a new report.

The finding are released by Wales Office Minister David Jones who led a taskforce to explore issues affecting rural areas.

Montgomeryshire Conservative MP Glyn Davies said the report confirmed how crucial broadband is to people.

Other complaints include concerns about the future of post offices and shops.

Last year, Mr Jones and Wales Office officials were asked by Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan to visit rural and farming communities to discuss people's concerns first hand.

He said: "The feedback we received for the Rural Economy Taskforce Report showed that local communities and businesses are becoming more and more reliant on effective broadband coverage."

'Necessary'

The minister said last week's Ofcom report highlighted the "scale of the challenge we face, with north, mid and west of Wales ranking among the worst areas of Britain for this vital infrastructure".

Start Quote

It is totally crucial. Broadband matters.”

End Quote Glyn Davies Montgomeryshire MP

He said more UK Government recognised the problem and that more money would be used to ensure the "whole of Wales and the rest of the UK have the best broadband network in Europe by 2015".

Montgomeryshire Conservative MP Mr Davies said the report was timely, adding that "broadband is absolutely crucial" to everyone in rural Wales, not just businesses.

"Good access to the internet is something that is going to be necessary to sell houses, to set up businesses, even, eventually, to retain public services," he said.

"It is totally crucial. Broadband matters."

The latest findings come days after a new interactive map from Ofcom showed much of Wales has the worst broadband provision in the UK.

Also a Broadband in Wales Inquiry, being conducted by the Welsh Affairs Select Committee in Westminster heard how lack of connections was becoming the chief barrier to businesses setting up in rural Wales.

Mr Jones is launching the report's findings during a visit to Llety Cynin, a farm at St Clears, Carmarthenshire, which has diversified into the leisure and tourism industry by offering facilities, including accommodation.

The full Rural Economy Taskforce Report is due to be published on the Wales Office website.

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