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Wales Extends Popular Broadband Support Scheme for a Second Time

Posted: 06th Feb, 2012 By: MarkJ
wales uk broadband mapwales government moneyThe Welsh Government (WAG) has once again chosen to extend their popular Broadband Support Scheme (BSS). This provides cash grants to help those who live in digitally isolated parts of Wales (UK) gain access to faster broadband internet connectivity. The BSS was due to end this financial year (March 2012) but it has now been extended for a second time.

The £2 Million scheme, which was first launched during July 2010, offers grants worth up to £1,000 for residents and businesses (per property) who live in parts of Wales where either no broadband or only sub-2Mbps (Megabits per second) internet connection speeds are available.

So far 2,038 applications have been approved under the BSS, which includes funding for 16 community schemes that cover 918 homes. A further 232 are being assessed (includes interest from another ten community schemes that could potentially cover 1,055 applicants).

Welsh Business Minister, Edwina Hart, said:

"It is filling a real need and making a difference to individuals, businesses and communities enabling them to participate in the benefits of the digital age.

"Terminating the Broadband Support Scheme in March 2012 could leave a potential gap in our ability to support people with immediate broadband issues. I am therefore pleased to announce we are extending the scheme to provide continuity during the early roll-out of next generation broadband and will continue to review the relevance of the Broadband Support Scheme during this period."

Hart, whom is somewhat vague about the specifics, confirms that the BSS will now "operate in parallel" with the Welsh Government's wider Next Generation Broadband for Wales (NGBW) project. The NGBW project itself is said to be "on track" to identify a winning bidder in March 2012, with the roll out of infrastructure beginning later that year, and concluding in 2015.

Overall some £1,662,709 of the £2m BSS budget has already been spent and the indications are that further investment could be required in the future. The scheme clearly still has a lot of applications in the pipeline and yet well over three quarters of its money has already been gobbled up.
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