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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 19:24 GMT 20:24 UK
More money for broadband 'divide'
Broadband connection
There are small areas of Wales which cannot access broadband
Extra cash to bridge the "digital divide" between areas of Wales with broadband and those without has been approved by the European Commission.

Although broadband availability has now reached around 98% of Wales, there are still 35 'blackspot' areas which do not have the information technology system.

The subsidy, co-financed by the EU and the Welsh Assembly Government, is designed to fill that gap.

The aid was vetted by Brussels so it did not break competition rules.

In 2002, the assembly government announced a 115m programme to achieve a total broadband infrastructure across Wales by March 2007.

The programme was designed to enhance the take-up of affordable broadband by individuals, communities, businesses and public sector organisations.

Through the RIBS project we are seeking to bridge the digital divide
Andrew Davies, Economic Development Minister

Wednesday's announcement of the extra cash for the Regional Innovative Broadband Support (RIBS) programme will allow areas, across large parts of rural Wales, to pick up broadband.

Tenders will now be invited from internet service providers to bring the new technology to the blackspots .

The blackspots, some of them just hamlets of two or three properties, are not covered under the current roll-out by BT. Nor can they access broadband through an asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service.

Broadband take-up is increasingly rapidly across Wales and only this week a vicar announced he would be offering wireless broadband access to his congregation in a Cardiff city centre church.

A survey last month for the assembly government's broadband unit found that 75% of small and medium enterprises in Wales were now accessing broadband.

Also last month, BT announced that more than 200,000 homes and businesses in Wales have telephone-based broadband services.

Economic Development Minister Andrew Davies said: "Our objective is to improve the competitiveness of Wales by increasing the availability of affordable broadband across the country.

"Through the RIBS project we are seeking to bridge the digital divide and help future-proof the broadband environment in Wales."

Wireless broadband goes to church
31 May 05 |  South East Wales
Broadband reveals digital divide
26 Apr 05 |  Technology
Broadband price falls to new low
12 Apr 05 |  Technology

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