Criteria for broadband funding set to be widened in Wales

The Welsh government is strongly expected to open its Broadband Support Scheme funding programme to more homes and businesses in the country by widening the criteria required to qualify for the scheme.

Until now only homes and businesses with dial-up speeds (512 Kbps or less) had been able to apply for the fund. It is now believed to be almost certain that the scheme will be extended to cover those homes and businesses with internet speeds below 2Mbps.

Under the Broadband Support Scheme, grants of £1,000 per individual application are offered to help secure access to higher speed broadband connections. The grants can be used on an individual basis or pooled to enable community-wide broadband installations.

The news has been particularly welcomed by the many businesses in Wales operating slightly above the 512 Kbps threshold.

It is now hoped that many more local areas in Wales will be able to follow in the footsteps of the Treleddyd Fawr community in Pembrokeshire whose members pooled their grants and now enjoy broadband speeds of up to 10Mbps.

Securing access to a viable broadband connection is seen by both the Welsh government and business in Wales as vital to operating effectively in the modern commercial sphere.

Those businesses without high speed broadband often find it a struggle to access important shared networking sites or to handle orders and enquiries efficiently.

They also often find themselves unable to benefit from new internet-enabled value added facilities such as internet protocol (IP) telephony which would enable them to send and receive large or complex data packages quickly at relatively low cost, and to secure cheaper business VoIP (voice over internet protocol) call rates.

For these reasons, the government in Wales has also committed itself to facilitating fibre optic broadband connections for all businesses in the country by 2016.