European Aid to Put Firms Online; Companies to Get Broadband Internet Access

Article excerpt

Byline: By DAVID JONES Business Correspondent

COMPANIES on strategic business parks across North Wales are to get a helping hand after official clearance from Europe for aid to promote fast internet access.

The move will help businesses in the region catch up with competitors in other parts of the UK and EU who already enjoy greater use of broadband.

A ruling from the European Commission yesterday cleared the way for the Welsh Assembly's Fibre-Speed Wales project which will provide companies located on 14 business parks with access to fast broadband services where these are currently unavailable at affordable prices.

The EC said state aid for the work was unlikely to significantly distort competition within the EU and it could therefore approve the project.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The project is fully in line with the Commission's policy to promote broadband in rural and remote areas."

Wales lags behind the rest of the UK in broadband deployment and a recent study found prices for high-speed services for businesses in Wales can be several times higher than in other parts of the UK.

The business parks are Ty Mawr at Holyhead, Llandudno Junction, Parc Caer Seion in Conwy, St Asaph Business Park including the OpTIC Tech-nium, North Wales Business Park, Deeside Industrial Park, Hawarden Industrial Park, Warren Hall at Broughton, St David's Park in Ewloe, Ban-gor's Parc Menai including the CAST Technium, Victoria Dock in Caernarfon, Parc Bryn Cegin at Bangor, Wrexham Industrial Estate and Wrexham Technology Park. …