Let's Have Wales Working with Broadband as Quickly as Possible
In May the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that broadband accounted for 50.7% of all internet connections. This is a significant turning point which confirms the decline in dial-up and the successful growth in broadband connections, which over the past year have increased by some 80%.
By comparison, in January 2001, when the ONS began collating internet data, broadband accounted for less than 1% of all connections. These figures, based on their survey of internet service providers, include both residential and business customers and provide a robust top-line figure on the UK's current level of broadband connectivity (to find out more visit www.statistics.gov.uk).
Whilst the UK figure is encouraging, the situation in Wales still causes some concern. Figures taken from the broadband Wales website, show that in March 2005, 25% of residential users in Wales have broadband access and 32% of Welsh businesses have broadband in the workplace. These do significantly lag behind the 50.7% being quoted by the ONS for the UK, and although you need to take care when comparing different statistics from different sources, further research goes on to confirm that the position regarding broadband usage in Wales is still far from encouraging.
For example, back in April during the run-up to the election, researchers Point Topic showed that in Wales we have the constituencies with the highest (central Cardiff at 40%) and the lowest (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy at 2%) levels of broadband take-up in the UK. Such research is significant as it goes some way to confirm the unacceptable existence of a digital divide in Wales.
But take-up levels are only one side of the broadband story, the other being levels of availability, as outlined by the broadband Wales Observatory in their Broadband Benchmark quarterly report (Q1) 2005 (www. …