Broadband Update – focus on Wales

Broadband Update - Focus on WalesA ‘Digital Divide’ was witnessed in Wales in 2011 wherein urban areas were receiving superfast broadband services in excess of 30 mbps whilst the rural areas were seen struggling with basic broadband provision of 2 megabits per second. Policy makers responded to this divide by providing public funding to initiate investment in broadband in commercially unattractive areas. In January this year, Keith James, chairman of Julian Hodge Bank, said there were three areas of utmost importance for the future development of Wales. Amongst these he included Broadband connectivity.

An article from BBC quoted last year that “a 10% increase in fast broadband penetration can result in between 0.25% and 1.38% growth in a country’s gross domestic product (GDP); Research by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) suggests, as well as 3.6% increase in efficiency “.

The Welsh Government has recognised this need, and made grant funding available to businesses who don’t yet have super-fast broadband in Wales. The scheme or grant funding has a few names. ‘Superfast broadband’, Super Connected Cities’ and ‘Connection Vouchers’ are just three. But the most popular name for the scheme in Wales is ‘Superfast Cymru’.

 Several initiatives have been taken to improve the broadband connectivity in Wales:

  • Superfast Cymru: Next-generation broadband

Since 2012, The Welsh Government has been behind a £425 million project which it hopes will transform Wales into one of the best-connected regions in the world. In July 2012, the Government awarded the contract to deliver its next-generation broadband project, “Superfast Cymru”, to BT. The project is intended to provide next-generation fibre-based broadband to 96 % of Wales by 2016. Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Ken Skates said “By the time Superfast Cymru is completed in 2016 Wales will be one of the most connected countries in the world. It is a huge undertaking with 3,000 green roadside cabinets to be installed and around 17,500kms of optical fibre cable to be laid. The sheer scale of the programme means not everyone can receive it at the same time but today’s announcement shows how we are moving ahead toward our goal of providing 96 per cent of premises in Wales with access to superfast broadband.”

Next-generation broadband

  • Access Broadband Cymru Scheme

In 2013, The Welsh Government announced that its £4 million Broadband Support Scheme (BSS), offered grants of up to £1,000 to help those living in rural parts of Wales where broadband connectivity remains poor (i.e. sub-2Mbps speeds). This scheme was called Access Broadband Cymru and was designed to complement the wider Superfast Cymru project and is thus only usable in areas where BT/BDUK’s fibre broadband rollout won’t cover.

  • #betterbroadband map

The Countryside Alliance has launched its #betterbroadband map. They aim to improve connectivity by encouraging supporters to tweet their broadband download speed, along with their postcode and supplier to the #betterbroadband map. 

  • Plaid Cymru has gone further with a target of delivering 30Mbps broadband to the whole of Wales if it wins the general election.

Plaid Cymru say: “We want to see an improved broadband connection, getting everybody online so that people can do business from home, with a target that all parts of Wales have access to speeds of at least 30Mbps and ensure that mobile phone operators provide a better service in all parts of Wales.”

Implications for Homeworkers:

  1. The various schemes undertaken by the Government and other organisations are beneficial to small businesses and people whose work is home-based.
  2. Access to superfast broadband increases productivity and promotes uninterrupted flow of work, reliable connection to corporate networks and other global resources.
  3. More people in more locations can work from home and choose their own schedules.

All of these initiatives provide a solid platform for individuals who want an opportunity to be Independent Business Owners and work from home. The internet is an essential part of any business enterprise and thus having a solid broadband connection will be a great boon to individuals looking to make the best of the Arise work from home model.

One of the fastest growing Independent Businesses that work from home with Arise is based in Wales….come on eveyone else, now you can !