Trumpets have been blowing from the HQ of British Telecom and the Welsh Government after the announcement that 96 per cent of Welsh homes and businesses will be able to access a fibre-based
broadband service by the end of 2015.
Quite right too. As we all know, the internet has become an integral part of our lives providing the opportunity to work, shop, pay bills etc at the click of a button.
So the Next Generation Broadband for Wales project is good news, if the target can be kept. However, less has been heard recently about the Welsh Government’s commitment to ensuring that 100 per
cent of the population have access to some level of broadband by 2015.
Many people across Monmouthshire living in remote rural areas receive no broadband at all. By 2015 they can hope to get the bare minimum speed of 2Mbps. Meanwhile they languish in the 20th century
while the rest of us enjoy the 21st. So I welcome the announcement of even faster broadband for the majority, but will expect the Welsh Government to prioritise those who have no access at all. As
one industry insider said to me, "If the majority are driving around in a Ford Focus should we worry about getting them a bigger car while a minority are still getting by on a horse and cart?"
The only good news is that if BT and the Welsh Government fail to deliver there are alternative means of getting broadband.
Earlier this year I helped to bring high-speed satellite broadband to The Bryn Trading Post, near Abergavenny. I am told it is working perfectly.
We may not have the best broadband in the world but Monmouthshire must surely be one of the best places to enjoy outdoor events. I have just spent a weekend with my family camping at the Croissant
Neuf summer party near Usk. It is a sort of family friendly folk festival - probably not the sort of place you would expect to find a Conservative MP wondering around. But my children aged between
four and seven had a fantastic time, as did their parents.
Over the next few weeks food, music, agriculture and much more is being celebrated at a variety of events across the county. I will get into trouble for singling anything out but you can find out
more at www.festivalsinmonmouthshire.co.uk.