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Wales is catching up with the rest of the UK where the rollout of super-fast broadband is concerned.

Ofcom's annual Communications Market Report shows that the number of premises covered by next-generation access networks has increased by ten percentage points in the last year.

Some 58 per cent of Welsh homes and businesses can now access super-fast broadband, compared to the UK average of 78 per cent.

The increase in availability of faster connections has been driven by the Welsh Government's Superfast Cymru project.

By May this year, the initiative had resulted in fibre broadband covering 156,000 premises across 14 unitary areas.

Download speeds of up to 330Mb are now available in some parts of rural Wales.

And with 81 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses in the country rating communications services as "fundamental to their business", this can only be good for the Welsh economy.

Rhodri Williams, Ofcom's Director in Wales, welcomed the advances made over the last year.

"For too long, Wales has lagged behind the UK for communications services," he stated.

"Our research shows that when it comes to the rollout of super-fast broadband services, Wales is beginning to bridge the gap."

Last week, it was announced that homes and businesses in another 66 locations across Wales will be added to the nation's super-fast broadband network.

Upgrades will be carried out at another 35 BT telephone exchanges across ten local authority areas: Carmarthenshire, Conwy, Ceredigion, Denbighshire, Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Powys, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taf and Wrexham.

Ed Hunt, BT Programme Director for Superfast Cymru, commented that "great progress" is being made in Wales, with 5,000 premises per week set to gain fibre broadband between now and the end of March 2015.

"Through this programme, we expect to reach close to half a million premises by summer 2015 with a year still to go," he noted.

Mr Hunt explained that this is nearly a third of all homes and businesses in Wales, and three-quarters when combined with BT’s own commercial rollout.

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