Welsh £115m broadband strategy to open up development opportunities

The Welsh Government's ambitious £115m, 10-year Broadband Wales strategy will open up opportunities for companies developing...

The Welsh Government's ambitious £115m, 10-year Broadband Wales strategy will open up opportunities for companies developing applications in telemedicine and education, according to Welsh economic development minister Andrew Davies.

"In the fields of education and health there are business opportunities for companies," said Davies, who was speaking in London earlier this week. In health, for example, there will be opportunities for telemedicine applications and diagnostic techniques, he added.

Broadband Wales aims to have at least 47% of both primary and secondary schools in Wales connected to broadband by March 2003.

Davies also highlighted the possibility of companies developing applications for organisations such as the National Library of Wales, which is involved in a major digitisation project.

Launched in July, Broadband Wales is funded by the Welsh Assembly, the Welsh Development Agency and European Objective One funding.

According to Davies, the initiative has already played its part in attracting business to Wales. He cited General Dynamics UK's decision to locate in south-east Wales.

The defence systems manufacturer, which won the £1.8bn contract for the Ministry of Defence's Bowman digital communications system, has set up its headquarters near Caerphilly. Davies said, "One of the reasons why they located to Wales was the Broadband Wales programme, as well as [the existence of] a skilled workforce."

Tony Blair recently unveiled Downing Street's strategy for improving public sector IT through broadband. The Government will invest £1bn in networking the UK's public services, a strategy that aims to link every school to broadband by 2006.

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