The Welsh Liberal Democrats claim that they have a solution to the failure to provide superfast internet across Mid-Wales.
Welsh Lib Dem leader Jane Dodds said local solutions could bridge what she called the “glaring digital divide”. To help fill that gap, she wants Mid-Wales to be designated a ‘digital catch-up zone’ for targeted investment to deliver usable internet speeds and for community champions to be put in place to help access funding.
The Conservative Government in Westminster shelved its manifesto commitment to give all homes across the UK superfast broadband by 2025 and reduced planned spending on the roll-out of fibre optic technology from £5 billion to £1.2 billion in the Chancellor’s spending review last October.
Just a few months earlier, parliamentary research by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran had found the three mid-Wales constituencies of Montgomeryshire, Ceredigion and Brecon and Radnorshire had some of the lowest internet speeds in the UK. All three were placed in the bottom 20, while Brecon and Radnorshire fared the worst with the 4th slowest speeds in the country.
Ms Dodds said: “The highspeed broadband network in Mid-Wales falls quite considerably short of where it is in major cities and even many other rural areas in the UK.
“With the rollback of their manifesto commitments, the Conservative government has generally failed to deliver due to the multitude of packages of support that have left a lot of communities left behind and are failing to ‘level up’ local economies.
“Some of our rural communities are very difficult to get to, but the technologies to reach those communities have improved dramatically.
"But, we are not even at that stage. We are still at the stage of getting to the big towns and getting a decent enough service to them before we even consider all the other communities that are in desperate need of connectivity.
“I think the region needs experts on the ground who can patch together all the funding that is available and just make it happen, rather than expect every single community to be experts in their own right. We need to see both Westminster and the Senedd working hand-in-hand to solve this problem.”