Mid Wales

'Low take-up' for broadband in Welsh rural 'notspots'

An MP has voiced concern at "low take-up" of a £2m scheme to bring broadband to some Welsh rural "notspots".

Ceredigion MP Mark Williams urged the assembly government to ensure people who can qualify for up to £1,000 are aware of it.

He claimed the 350 applications - about 20 a week - approved since the scheme's launch in July were too low.

The assembly government said a further 400 applications were being processed and people were being urged to apply.

A broadband "notspot" centres on the distance residents are from their telephone exchange.

The lack of access to fast internet access in rural areas has been criticised in recent years.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones launched the broadband improvement scheme in the village of Blaenplwyf, near Aberystwyth, in July.

Mr Williams, a Liberal Democrat said: "This is a good scheme, and could be a big help to many in rural Wales, but so far there has not been the take-up that you would expect, so it is crucial that the assembly government does more to make people aware of the scheme.

"Broadband provision is absolutely crucial for businesses and individuals in rural areas, so this help is very welcome, and I would urge individuals and communities to investigate the scheme, and see if it can help them to get broadband.

"I hope that the assembly government will do more to ensure that people are aware of this scheme, and have the necessary information to investigate whether it can help them."

Mr Jones said 350 had applied for the scheme and a further 400 applications were being processed, and he welcomed Mr Williams's support for the scheme.

"The Welsh Assembly Government is determined to find ways of opening up access for the relatively few areas in Wales that remain unable to benefit from broadband services.

"Our approach to promoting this scheme in the current difficult economic climate is to make the most of existing low cost communication channels, so that we can ensure that money set aside for the scheme is used for end-user grants.

"In addition to promoting the scheme at summer shows that have been well represented by a wide range of community and stakeholder groups, we've seen the scheme being promoted in national, local, trade and online publications.

"So far we have received and approved over 350 applications with a further 400 currently being completed by individuals across Wales and we would continue to urge people unable to access next generation broadband to take advantage of this scheme."

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