Wales, so long the laggard in the UK broadband adoption, is to receive a £100m boost to its internet infrastructure from the Welsh Assembly.
The Broadband Wales programme is the biggest scheme of its kind to be funded entirely by the taxpayer. It will provide affordable high-speed internet access to 67,000 business and 310,000 homes.
The Welsh economic development minister Andrew Davies (pictured) unveiled the new plan at Cardiff University yesterday.
The scheme has been launched amid concerns that Wales has had the slowest uptake of broadband services in the UK.
According to a recent survey of 19,000 UK companies by Strathclyde University for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), only two per cent of Welsh businesses were connected to high-speed internet services, compared to 11 per cent in London.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics also show that home broadband use in Wales falls behind the rest of the UK.
Welsh Development Agency (WDA) chief executive Graham Hawker said the new programme would have a significant impact on the Welsh economy.
"The availability of affordable higher bandwidth services will be a huge boost for Welsh business," said Hawker.
A major part of the plan rests on linking 30 business support centres in the principality together in order to provide a taste of what broadband is like for companies before they sign up for the service.
Another part will see the WDA run a scheme to subsidise the cost of satellite links to SMEs where ADSL or cable is unavailable.
A special unit will be set up within the Assembly to oversee the scheme, and a programmes director will be appointed.
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