People, Places, Business

Neath community education centre helps over 650 residents with Superfast Cymru boost

A community education centre in Neath has been able to deliver over 20 training courses to nearly 700 people with help from Superfast Cymru.

After benefiting from Superfast Cymru, the DOVE Workshop in Banwen, Neath, is now urging other residents and businesses to check their connection.

Following the completion of its Superfast Cymru rollout, the Welsh Government has launched a campaign to remind Neath residents of the availability and benefits of superfast broadband and encourage residents to check the options available to them. The project is a partnership between the Welsh Government, BT, UK Government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Research undertaken ahead of the campaign launch showed that 80% of people report knowing what superfast broadband is, with awareness highest in the north and lower among women and residents in the Valleys.

To promote the campaign, a six-foot tall lightning bolt has been touring the country and made stops at several festivals, including the Royal Welsh Show, Brecon Jazz Festival and Pembrokeshire County Show.

The bolt’s final stop was at the DOVE Workshop where Leader of the House with responsibility for digital infrastructure Julie James received a tour of the facilities and heard how crucial superfast has been to the organisation.

Since being set up over 30 years ago, the DOVE Workshop has provided an alternative type of learning by offering flexible courses to include IT, literacy, Welsh as well as part-time degrees with Swansea University. The aim of the centre is to up-skill the local community and a vital component in delivering these courses has been having superfast broadband.

Through Superfast Cymru, the availability of superfast broadband across Wales has more than doubled since 2012. Coupled with homes enabled through commercial schemes – the majority of Welsh homes and businesses now have access to the service, with Wales having the highest availability among the devolved nations.

Latest figures show that take-up of fibre broadband services from the infrastructure built by Superfast Cymru is exceeding expectations, reaching almost 46 per cent, which means the government is on track to exceed its original target of 50% take-up by 2023.

In NPT, over 26,000 premises have been enabled under Superfast Cymru which is in addition to private sector roll-out of the technology. Almost 45% of residents and businesses who have been enabled through Superfast Cymru have taken up a fibre service.

Lesley Smith, joint co-ordinator of DOVE Workshop, said: “We think it is excellent that the Welsh Government has placed such an importance on superfast, particularly in the valley communities. Superfast really does help to expand people’s opportunities and develop themselves.

“For us, it is especially significant as we have just been awarded funding from the Rural Capital Development Fund to help promote routes into employment within the creative industries in Wales and having fast internet speeds will be key to our work.

“We hope the Leader of the House enjoyed her tour and we’re honoured to have been chosen as the final leg of the bolt’s tour of Wales – it really was impressive and definitely caused a stir in the area!”

Leader of the House with responsibility for digital infrastructure Julie James, said: “I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to visit the DOVE workshop. The courses they offer not only help from an employment perspective, but they are also hugely beneficial for people’s personal development. I’m glad that our superfast scheme has enabled the DOVE workshop to deliver its crucial services.

“The first phase of our awareness campaign aimed to promote the benefits of superfast broadband while the Superfast Cymru rollout took place.

“Following completion of the first phase, the focus is now turning to renewing awareness of its availability to communities across the country, including here in Neath.

“While most premises can now receive access to superfast broadband, I know that there are some premises waiting for it, or unsure as yet if they will receive it. Advice and assistance is also available for them.”  

To find out what broadband is available, people are advised to visit www.gov.wales/broadband

This also includes information for those not yet able to receive superfast broadband as support may be available through the Welsh Government's Access Broadband Cymru scheme, which provides grant funding to access superfast broadband through other means.