Minister for Digital Margot James and Minister for Wales Mims Davies co-chaired the special roundtable, hosted by Caerphilly Council at its headquarters in Ystrad Mynach on Thursday (11th October).
The focus was on key issues such as the roll out of fibre broadband, 5G connectivity, and the impact of the UK Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme - which is providing support to small businesses and surrounding local communities towards the installation costs of a gigabit capable connection.
Caerphilly and Torfaen County Borough Council leaders gave updates on local and regional digital strategies, and there was discussion on how the Cardiff Capital City Deal Region can further benefit from improved digital infrastructure.
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries said:
“We’ve taken superfast broadband to over 700,000 homes and businesses in Wales that would otherwise have missed out and we’re building a nationwide full-fibre broadband network for a Britain that’s fit for the future."
“Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we’re making fast and affordable connectivity, with all the economic benefits it brings, a reality for all in South East Wales.”
UK Government Minister in Wales Mims Davies said:
“By having access to ultrafast broadband, businesses can expand, develop new markets, create the jobs we need and compete with others around the world. It also allows local communities in the most rural areas of Wales to access public services more quickly and efficiently online.
“Providing high quality internet access is fundamental to the growth of our economy and the UK Government is doing all it can to ensure that the UK has a broadband network fit for the digital age.”
Leader of Caerphilly Council, Cllr Dave Poole said:
“We want to maximise the impact of digital technology across the city deal region and for Caerphilly to lead the way in Wales with the digitalisation of our services.”
“We have challenged ourselves to develop new and innovative ways of working, which is becoming increasingly important as our budgets shrink.
“We also recognise the importance of delivering a high quality digital infrastructure so that our local economy can grow and prosper.”
In its recent Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), the UK Government highlighted work by its Barrier Busting Task Force to help lower administration costs and enable gigabit-capable broadband connections for approximately 40,000 homes and businesses in Caerphilly, which might otherwise have been left behind.
The FTIR will see government support investment for full fibre broadband in rural areas and the places most difficult to reach across the country, making sure that everyone can benefit from improved connectivity regardless of where they live.
More widely, the Government is investing £1.1 billion to improve digital connectivity across the UK, including:
- £95m through the Local Full Fibre Network programme, providing funding to local areas to support investment in a much bigger fibre ‘spine’ across the UK, prioritising full-fibre connections for businesses and bringing together public sector demand;
- a new 100% business rates relief for new full-fibre infrastructure for a 5 year period from 1 April 2017; this is designed to support roll out to more homes and businesses
- The £200m 5G Testbed and Trials Programme, a coordinated programme of integrated fibre and 5G trials to keep the UK at the forefront of the global 5G revolution.
As well as investing in infrastructure, through its modern Industrial Strategy the UK Government is backing local businesses with its plan for jobs and growth across the whole country.