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Mid Wales Partnership Calls For Rural Broadband

Posted: 12th Oct, 2007 By: MarkJ
The Mid Wales Partnership (MWP) has released a new paper - 'Pushed to the Periphery', which examines the lack of broadband across large areas of rural Wales. The paper itself calls for urgent planning and investment to solve the problem.

BT claims that 99.6% of the Welsh 'population' are covered by broadband, although typically that last 0.4% includes many rural areas where there is nothing. The Welsh Consumer Council's official population coverage statistics tell of a more mixed story:

* Powys, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire - 77%
* South Wales Valleys - 87%
* North Wales - 94%
* South West Wales, Cardiff, South East Wales - 95%


Mark Elliott, lead officer for the Mid Wales Partnership’s ICT advisory group, said the unavailability of broadband, which he labelled “the fourth utility”, to parts of the country was down to a combination of factors, including the limitations of the current, outdated infrastructure.

He said establishing who was responsible for improving the broadband network in rural Wales, whether it was BT or the Welsh Assembly Government, was “the billion pound question”. “The question is who should renew the line to the property,” he said.

“BT can say they’re a private company, so it’s not up to them, while the Assembly can say it’s a market issue. It’s probably not for any one body, so it could be a public-private partnership. Another message we get is ‘let demand create supply’ but that is nonsense with broadband, which creates its own supply, as YouTube proves. You give them more bandwidth and entrepreneurs come out of the woodwork.”

The icWales piece offers a well rounded summary of the problems and it's worth remembering that the UK and Scotland still suffer from identical problems.
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