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The Welsh Assembly is taking steps to improve broadband quality in rural parts of the principality, it has been reported.

Under new plans unveiled by Business Minister Edwina Hart, the scope of the government's Broadband Support Scheme is to be extended.

At present, households, businesses and organisations in communities where connectivity is less than 512 kilobytes per second can apply for a grant of up to £1,000 to improve their internet service.

The policy was introduced in a bid to deliver broadband to rural 'notspots' across the country, and 800 applications have been approved so far, with £600,000 awarded to bidders.

It is now being extended to include 'slowspots' where download speeds of less than 2Mb are received.

Ms Hart said it is "vital" that everyone across Wales has access to basic broadband.

"That is why we launched the Broadband Support Scheme - to help households and businesses in Wales get broadband access regardless of where they live," she stated.

The decision to extend the funding scheme has received the backing of the recently-formed Wales Internet Service Providers Association (Wispa).

Speaking to the BBC, Wispa Chairman Hywel William said consumers now expect download speeds in excess of half a megabyte, and the Assembly's recognition of this fact is a major advance.

"We also welcome the fact this subsidy is technology neutral. It allows people to access the most appropriate technology for the area where they live and also in effect now it will reach the slow spots," he added.

"I understand the subsidy has had a fair amount of success already in reaching communities," Mr William added.

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