Poor broadband connection is freezing Wales out of economic growth, Plaid Cymru has warned. The party said that despite efforts to connect 96% of Wales to superfast broadband, almost half of Wales is classed as category 5 for overall broadband connectivity, the worst possible classification, while there is no superfast broadband at all in ten out of Wales’ 22 counties. There are also problems with existing broadband connections.
The party says that European funding could be used more creatively to deliver faster and more accessible network such as in other countries.
Plaid Cymru said that businesses across Wales are struggling with difficult working conditions, and highlighted the case of a business owner in Merthyr who is considering relocating his business outside Wales, which could leave 40 workers unemployed.
The Party of Wales Europe spokesperson Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM also said that the Welsh Government’s Superfast Cymru scheme was trying customers into BT internet provision, which was causing many people problems. He pointed to instances of best practice across Europe where technology-neutral networks have been favoured which mean that the infrastructure is open to many internet providers.
The Party of Wales Europe spokesperson Rhodri Glyn Thomas AM said:
“Plaid Cymru is clear that we need to strengthen Wales’ economy to make it strong and sustainable. To achieve that then we need to build it from the ground up. That means having strong and robust infrastructure, and currently that doesn’t exist in Wales.
“Despite the Welsh Government’s claims that it is ambitious about connecting the whole of Wales, currently more than half of Wales has the basic level of broadband access. On top of this, the infrastructure that is being installed is not technology neutral, meaning that customers are forced to buy from a single provider.
“Other EU countries have managed to develop cutting edge broadband infrastructure that is able to provide a strong foundation for the public and private sector operations. This is something that we should aspire to and we should be actively seeking all funding available to make this a reality in Wales.
“Good connection is vital to delivering inward investment, to enable small and micro businesses to run international businesses, and for sustaining the rural economy, so it is no wonder that some business owners are considering relocating outside Wales, where the connection is better. That’s why we must act now, and ensure that Wales is able to compete in the online marketplace.”