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Last Updated: Friday, 12 October 2007, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Rural broadband 'black hole' fear
A person on the internet (library picture)
BT says more than 99% of people in Wales can access broadband
Black holes in rural Wales's broadband network are putting the area in danger of falling behind the rest of the UK, claims a regeneration group.

The Mid Wales Partnership is calling for "urgent planning and investment" to improve high speed internet connection.

It said there were "not spots" unable to get broadband of any description.

BT said over 99% of people in Wales could access broadband although a small number could not, and is working with the assembly government on the problem.

In a study called Pushed to the Periphery, the partnership said much of the region did not have access to broadband in comparison to urban areas.

"The metropolitan areas are seeing competition bring down prices and an increase in broadband speeds, through local loop unbundling, where other operators can locate equipment in telephone exchanges," it said.

"This is not happening in rural areas.

"There needs to be regulatory assistance to avoid mid Wales being on the wrong side of the digital divide and being disadvantaged further, and a new invigorating pioneering spirit to provide rural Wales with a ubiquitous affordable telecommunications infrastructure available to all."

A spokesman for BT in Wales said all of the nation's phone exchanges were "broadband enabled".

"More than 99% of people can access broadband services," added the spokesman.

"There are a small number who cannot, but we are working with the Welsh Assembly Government to resolve this where we can."

Michael Jones, chairman of Powys Council's governing board said a "ubiquitous affordable high speed telecommunications infrastructure" in mid Wales, would offer "unknown opportunities for economic, social and environmental regeneration" in the region.

The Welsh Assembly Government has been asked to comment.



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