Plaid pledges digital connectivity package for rural Wales

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Plaid Cymru will ensure every home and business in Wales will have access to ultra-fast broadband.

The party has said it wants to deliver a Digital Connectivity Package which would ensure all homes and businesses in Wales, including rural areas will have access to ultra-fast broadband and roll-out 5G mobile data signal across Wales.

The Superfast Cymru programme, funded jointly by the Welsh Government, the UK Government and the European Union, delivers superfast broadband to 95% of premises in Wales with another 1% reached by the Welsh Government’s FibreSpeed programme.

Plaid Cymru has criticised the Welsh Government and the UK Government for failing to reach the remaining four 4% which are predominately in rural areas. The party’s candidate in Dwyfor Meirionnydd says that mobile data infrastructure being built for the emergency services network must be built to accommodate multiple network operators, ensuring the public gets maximum value from the money being spent on digital infrastructure.

Liz Saville Roberts, who is Plaid Cymru’s candidate in Dwyfor Meirionnydd, says rural communities are being cut off thanks to successive governments’ failure to provide access to broadband and mobile data signal. She says the poor connectivity is impacting on small businesses who miss out on exporting opportunities.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency is home to the lowest average download speed in the UK with an average speed of just 2.7 Mbps. Seven out of the ten least connected areas in the UK are in Wales.

Liz Saville Roberts said:

“There is a big divide between those areas which are able to access superfast broadband and those rural communities struggling to achieve the Government’s own baseline download speed of ten megabits per second.

“It’s unacceptable that out of the ten worst performing areas for broadband speeds, seven are in Wales. Of those regions identified as having shockingly poor download speeds, north west Wales fares the worst.

“People living in rural areas find the glacial pace at which superfast broadband is being rolled-out is aggravated by all-round poor connectivity. Many people across Wales are unable to access what Ofcom recognises as the speed necessary to deliver an ‘acceptable user experience’, required for basic tasks such as web browsing, streaming and video calling. On top of this, they are often the same areas that have very weak to no mobile data signal.

“Upgrading digital infrastructure in rural areas is crucial to ensuring that the rural economy is not further disadvantaged. The current situation evidently puts businesses at a disadvantage and may make potential employers think twice about investing in such areas.

“Businesses cannot operate online without adequate digital infrastructure which isolates them from export opportunities and limits them to a very restricted local market.

“If we want rural Wales to succeed economically, to provide well-paid jobs for local people, we have to make sure every last corner of the country has access to broadband and mobile data signal. The UK Government has agreed to provide infrastructure for the emergency services network which will be partly built by EE. Planning conditions must be amended to ensure this infrastructure is built to accommodate multiple operators, not just EE.

“Plaid Cymru will ensure every home and every business in Wales has access to ultra-fast broadband and we will roll out 5G mobile data signal across all parts of the country.

“The Conservatives in Westminster are failing rural Wales and the Labour Party has done precious little to force them into action. Only Plaid Cymru will be able to stand up for Wales in Westminster and speak for rural communities.”

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