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By: MarkJ - 30 July, 2010 (11:27 AM)
wales uk broadband mapThe community based Mawr Development Trust (MDT), which represents the rural villages of Craigcefn Parc, Felindre and Garnswllt north of Swansea in Wales (UK), could become one of the first beneficiaries of the Welsh Assembly’s new 'Broadband Support Initiative'. The news follows a successful 15Mbps speed wireless internet access trial by TFL Group, which was delivered into Felindre's village hall.

Earlier this month the Welsh Assembly Government announced a new support scheme worth £2 Million for internet have-nots (here). The money would be made available to residents and businesses who live in parts of Wales where even basic broadband connection speeds (0.5Mbps (512Kbps)) remain unavailable; otherwise known as "not-spots".

So far some 1,800 individuals have declared a lack of broadband and each applicant could now benefit from up to £1,000 of cash to help them get online. The scheme is due to launch this summer but the grants are not expected to be handed out willy-nilly. The Community of Mawr is one of the oldest in Wales. It is predominantly rural and also represents over 1,800 residents, albeit split over a wider area.

Mawr Development Trust’s Community Development Officer, Phil Owen, said:

"The Community of Mawr has never received a viable broadband service from BT and we are now happy that wireless broadband delivery appears to be the way forward for us.

The next stage is to gather the support required within the rest of the Mawr community and then work with the Welsh Assembly to progress the installation via their new ‘broadband support’ initiative."

The Mawr Development Trust will now liaise with residents and the Welsh Assembly Government in order to make the connection permanent and begin further work to distribute the signal to other residents in the community who have expressed an interest in receiving a broadband service.

TFL Group Director, Jonathan England, added:

"Mawr is a perfect example of how a rural Welsh ‘notspot’ community can be broadband-enabled both quickly and efficiently with the right technology and expertise.

It also looks as though Mawr will become the first ‘test case’ for the Assembly’s new broadband support scheme and we will be very interested to see how the project progresses through the necessary applications for funding, towards the eventual awarding of financial support."

The Trust had originally tried to obtain a viable broadband service from BT over two years ago but were unable to do so. Mawr was recently selected as one of three 'real world' notspot areas where the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) committee had invited theoretical proposals to solve local issues of broadband availability.

Ironically, although TFL has responded to the original BDUK request, its "theoretical" solution now looks likely to be implemented by local residents long before BDUK’s consultation process concludes. The other BDUK notspots were Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and Lancaster in the north west of England.

TFL recently warned (here) that the new support scheme presented a serious risk of both financial and technology duplication unless the assembly government was able to put in place controls designed to guide buyers in NotSpot communities towards broadband solutions that will actually deliver high speed services reliably and sustainably.
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