Rural Welsh businesses to get more support for gigabit broadband

Rural Welsh businesses to get more support for gigabit broadband

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Businesses in rural parts of Wales that have so far missed out on high-speed connectivity are to be offered more financial support from the government to enable them to access higher broadband speeds.

A new partnership between the devolved Welsh government and Westminster will see the amount of funding available to both businesses and community groups significantly increased. This is a reflection of the fact that, due to the country's geography and the isolated locations of many premises, it is more expensive to deploy fibre infrastructure to rural areas in Wales than other parts of the UK.

Until now, small and medium-sized enterprises and their surrounding communities have been able to claim up to £2,500 of vouchers to help contribute to the cost of installing gigabit-capable broadband.

However, the new arrangements will see the Welsh government add an additional £3,000 on top of this for businesses up to a certain size, as well as an additional £300 per residential property.

This means group projects in Wales will now be able to claim up to £5,500 per business, compared with £2,500 elsewhere in the UK. A maximum of £800 will now be available per residential property in Wales, compared with £500 elsewhere. 

Deputy minister for economy at the Welsh government Lee Waters said: "Although the vast majority of premises in Wales can now access superfast broadband, we are working hard on assisting the remaining five per cent that cannot access it and where commercial companies have no plans to reach."

He added while there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution for reaching these final premises, the gigabit broadband voucher scheme is a vital funding source for projects and can be hugely beneficial to areas that currently lack access.

UK minister for digital Margot James also welcomed the initiative, saying: "This exclusive scheme for Welsh businesses and communities is a vital part of our modern Industrial Strategy [to] build a Britain that is fit for the future." 

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