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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Broadband take up reaches 200,000
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Broadband take up is growing faster than sales of mobile phones
More than 200,000 homes and businesses in Wales have telephone-based broadband services, according to BT.

The figures come as the telecoms firm announced it would achieve five million phoneline or ADSL broadband connections in the UK during this week.

It said broadband was now one of the fastest growing consumer products of all time with a higher take-up rate than TV, CD players and mobile phones.

Across Wales, BT said 16.3% of homes and business had telephone broadband.

Ann Beynon, BT director Wales, said by this summer BT would have brought broadband to telephone exchanges covering 99.5% of households and businesses in Wales.

The figure represents all non cable-based broadband providers in Wales.

She said: "We have to ensure everyone in Wales is logging on and unlocking the huge potential of broadband communications, which offers people a wealth of new business, leisure, entertainment and education opportunities to explore."

Cardiff - 14.7% (18,000)
Swansea - 14.7% (12,000)
Ceredigion - 17.2% (5,000)
Gwynedd - 14% (6,000)
Wrexham - 17.9% (10,000)
Merthyr Tydfil - 15% (4,000)
Powys - 14.5% (8,000)

Monmouthshire has the highest percentage broadband take up, at 23.1%, with 9,000 users. Neath has the lowest take up, 12.6% with 8,000 users.

BT set the target of five million "wholesale" broadband connections - with one of up to 200 non-cable internet providers - three years ago. It has beaten the deadline by more than a year.

The latest million connections came in just four months. BT said it was connecting a customer every 10 seconds, 24 hours per day.

BT said 318 of Wales' 436 exchanges were equipped with broadband, serving 1.3 million people or 93.9% of the region's premises.

A further 84 exchanges are to be upgraded by the end of July this year, it added. Currently 208,000 homes and business are connected to broadband.

Ms Beynon highlighted Caerphilly Council as a "trailblazer" among local authorities in Wales for stimulating awareness of the benefits of broadband.

The council's promotion of broadband made it the first unitary authority outside of the M25 to reach 100% coverage.

Ms Beynon said: "We are pleased that the Welsh Assembly Government is preparing a tender to address 100% availability across Wales.

Broadband blackspots

"We are conscious there are disparities in take-up across Wales and are anxious to work with local partners particularly in those areas where take- up is low.

"We will be having discussions with potential partners, especially those in government at all levels, to ensure that Broadband Britain is truly inclusive of all communities, even those in the most rural areas."

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said it had two initiatives - Regional Innovative Broadband Support (Ribs) and the Broadband Brokerage Scheme - to encourage broadband take up in Wales.

He said: "The Ribs project is designed specifically to enable all areas of Wales described as broadband blackspots to have access to first-generation (512kbps to 2mbps) broadband services."

Cable-based internet provider, ntl, said it was still the largest provider of home broadband connections, with 1.3m customers in the UK.

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