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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 19:51 GMT 20:51 UK
Rural campaign for broadband link
Anne Smith Glass Designs
Glass designer Anne Smith says she needs a broadband connection
Villagers in parts of Gwynedd have launched a campaign for access to high-speed broadband internet services.

Despite 99.6% broadband coverage in Wales, there are 35 telephone exchanges unable to provide the service.

Villagers in Rhiw on the Llyn Peninsula have signed a petition calling for broadband as soon as possible.

The Welsh Assembly Government said it hoped to award tenders for providing broadband access in the 35 remaining areas before the end of the year.

BT said it was not yet commercially viable to carry out the work on the 35 exchanges not able to provide broadband because many of them have too few customers.

If I'm downloading emails I can't receive telephone calls
Anne Smith, businesswoman

"There is 99.6% broadband coverage in Wales, which is very high," said a BT spokesman.

"There are 35 small exchanges in Wales which have not been enabled however because it is not commercially viable for BT to do so.

"Rhiw, with 150 customers, is one of these," he added.

Villagers at Rhiw say they are desperate for the connection and have collected a petition of local people who are waiting for broadband - a digital signal on a standard telephone line which allows normal telephone calls and computer use at the same time.

Abergynolwyn; Angle; Beguildy; Bont Ddu; Bryn Eglwys; Capel Curig; Caereinion; Cross Ash; Cyffylliog; Cynghordy; Ganllwyd; Gladestry; Glandyfi; Gwynfi; Hundred House; Llanarmon Dyffryn Ceiriog; Llandrindod; Llangunllo; Llangurig; Llanefydd; Llantilio; Llanwddyn; Llawhaden; Merthyr Cynog; Moelgrove; Painscastle; Pant y dwr; Penmaen; Pennal; Rhandirmwyn; Rhiw; Rhos; Rhydmain; Skenfrith; St Nicholas.

"It would really make a difference to us," said Gwenllian Jones, who with her husband Tony runs the community website as a hobby.

The couple have used their website to collect a petition with 91 names on it, half of whom said they would like would like broadband "tomorrow."

"Apart from being useful for us with the website it would mean young people could stay in rural areas such as this, running a business from home for instance," Mrs Jones added.

"It would be so much easier if we had broadband," agreed Anne Smith who runs her business, Anne Smith Glass Designs, from her Rhiw home.

"I now struggle on an ordinary phone line, so if I'm downloading emails I can't receive telephone calls.

"And if I wanted to make my website e-commerce enabled I would have to have broadband.

"If I need to do research on the internet it is just so slow now."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said it had put the job of providing broadband access, for those 35 areas affected, to tender in June 2005, and the tenders are expected to be awarded before the end of the year.

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