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The Welsh Government has signed a £425 million deal with BT which will see 96 per cent of homes and businesses receive super-fast broadband.

Under a new agreement with the broadband provider, fibre services will be rolled out nationwide by 2015, helping to raise digital participation and boost download capabilities in Wales.

Homes and businesses in many areas of the principality are set to gain access to broadband speeds 15 times those currently available.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said that in signing the deal with BT, Wales had moved into the broadband "fast lane".

"Our partnership with BT will see to it that Wales does more than simply catch with our neighbours.

"We intend to catch-up, overtake and then set the pace that others will strive to match."

Wales Office Minister David Jones said that by having access to super-fast broadband, businesses can expand, develop new markets, create jobs and compete with others around the world.

"It also allows local communities in the most rural areas of Wales to access public services more quickly and efficiently online," he added.

"This announcement will help ensure that businesses in even the most rural parts of Wales can continue to thrive."

Support for the rollout programme has come from the Country, Land & Business Association, whose Vice-President Ross Murray described fibre broadband as "a vital service" for the rural economy.

He said that, at present, the lack of broadband in rural parts of Wales puts businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

“Since the Welsh Government first announced its plan to roll out super-fast broadband last year, we have waited and waited for further information so a 2015 confirmation is very welcome," Mr Murray stated.

"The priority now is for the government and BT to address the areas in Wales that currently receive no broadband or very slow speeds."

He said BT must not simply increase the speeds of the ten to 15 per cent who already have super-fast broadband, but instead concentrate on those households and businesses that have suffered from poor broadband for the past ten years.

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