NEARLY 80 rural homes and businesses in north Powys have been given access to broadband for the first time thanks to a company that specialises in rural networks.
Broadband provider eXwavia, which uses wireless technology to provide broadband has connected nearly 80 properties in Cefn Coch and Adfa, near Welshpool.
The project, which mirrors a similar eXwavia project on Anglesey, North Wales, will be rolled out throughout rural Wales by eXwavia which wants to make Montgomeryshire in north Powys the fastest rural broadband region in the UK.
Among the businesses which has benefited is outward bound provider the Red Ridge Centre at Cefn Coch.
"This has transformed our business and the whole community overnight," said business owner Pete Jones.
"In the few weeks since the broadband network was switched on we’ve moved forward dramatically.
"Accessing our 20Mbps connection our businesses processes, work on our company website, booking systems and how we do things day-to-day have just changed and revolutionised what we do – for the better!
"The flexibility of the wireless technology has opened up business opportunities for us. Above all it means, as a business in rural Wales, we can now compete on an open playing field with competitors anywhere in the UK – or even the world."
Mr Jones spearheaded a campaign to get broadband to the community where even mobile phone signals are difficult. Many of those connected received support through the Welsh Government’s Broadband Support Scheme which provides funding to homes and businesses that cannot get broadband, or have speeds under 2Mbps.
The broadband network has been made possible through a link from the high speed FibreSpeed fibre-optic network in North Wales via a microwave link to Long Mountain near Welshpool. This is connected to masts at Cefn Coch and Adfa which allow users to receive fast broadband wirelessly without the need for cables or fibre-optics.
The new link means rural communities throughout north Powys now have the potential to get fast and reliable broadband which is currently unavailable through conventional telephone lines.
Annette Burgess, Managing Director of eXwavia said: "The new broadband network demonstrates how almost any rural community can get fast and reliable broadband where there is demand.
"We’ve worked closely with Pete Jones who has acted as a passionate broadband champion within the community and spearheaded a local campaign.
"We’re now working with other communities in north Powys to bring more fast and reliable broadband into homes and businesses. We want to make Montgomeryshire the fastest and most reliable rural locaction for broadband in the UK."
Montgomeryshire AM, Russell George, said more needed to be done to get other communities online.
"Communities like Cefn Coch and Adfa have struggled to get a reliable broadband connection – they’ve been left isolated and in the cold. eXwavia’s network demonstrates how such vital technology can actually reach such rural communities, stimulating business opportunities and providing residents with a service that most of us simply expect.
"I’m pleased that the Welsh Government has extended the Broadband Support Scheme to help businesses and individuals to connect where they cannot access it or the speeds are very low.
"But more needs to be done and I’m pleased that companies such as Montgomeryshire-based eXwavia are driving the way to get rural Wales on the high speed.