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Wales relaunches £1,000 reverse broadband postcode lottery for rural folk

The Welsh Government has promised to provide up to £1,000 for rural homes and businesses to get connected to superfast broadband. 

Homes that won’t be covered by the Superfast Cymru plan, which will connect up to 96 per cent of locations across Wales, will be able to raise funds to pay for installation of a BT street cabinet in their village, wireless broadband, full fibre broadband from Gigaclear or whatever they wanted.

This will make superfast broadband available to more locations throughout Wales, driving superfast speeds deeper into the countryside. 

The new scheme, Access Broadband Cymru, will effectively replace the old Broadband Support Scheme which will be closed down at the end of this month. 

Ken Skates, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology for the Welsh Government says: “While Superfast Cymru continues to make excellent progress in connecting Wales’ homes and businesses, we want to ensure that all of our communities are able to enjoy the benefits of improved connectivity.

“A grant of up to £1,000 per premise really will make that difference and open the door to so many opportunities that just aren’t available if you don’t have a good quality, fast broadband connection.”

Residents who want to apply will need to enter their postcode at the Superfast Cymru site to see if their exchange is included in the superfast rollout plan. Those not on the rollout map should be eligible for a grant. 

A post on the Welsh Government’s site urges applicants to visit a page in order to get the cash. Sadly the link appears to be broken, meaning there’s currently no way to apply online. We’ve not yet heard back from the government but hope that the problem gets fixed soon. Residents have until March 31 2016 to apply, so there’s still time to get things fixed. 

Last year it was estimated that 90,000 homes in Wales would not benefit from the Superfast Cymru plan. 
 
The majority of homes and businesses in Wales will benefit from an FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) type connection which can provide speeds of up to 80Mbps. As we’ve seen recently in nearby South Gloucestershire, getting cabinets set up and installed in the countryside can be problematic. 

As well as having to make sure power companies can supply cabinets with electricity, surveying, population distribution, topography, badgers and the weather can impede the rollout of FTTC broadband in the sticks as it’s a distance dependent technology. 

Technologies such as wireless broadband are more suited to rural rollout in some locations as terrain is less of a factor. Full fibre FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) broadband can also guarantee higher speeds without the problem of distance degradation and projects like B4RN, Fibre GarDen and B4GAL are blazing a trail for rural fibre deployment. 

Image: Images of Money/Flickr

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