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Plaid Cymru slams eminister Wales broadband claims

'High on talk, low on action'

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A prospective candidate for the National Assembly has attacked its eminister for painting a rosy picture of broadband in Wales.

Plaid Cymru's Adam Rykala hit out at comments made by Andrew Davies in an interview with ZDNet in which the eminister said that Wales could teach the rest of the UK a lesson concerning the deployment of broadband.

Said Mr Davies in the interview: "By March 2003, 47 percent of Welsh schools will have a broadband connection - primary schools will have a 2Mbps connection, and secondary schools an 8Mbps link. In the NHS, 67 percent of Welsh GP practices already have a connection of at least 256Kbps."

But Mr Rykala dismissed Mr Davies' comments: "We hear many pie in the sky promises about delivery of broadband but in Tredegar they are still waiting for the school to get broadband and I don't consider the provision of a few terminals in Tredegar Library as providing broadband to the community - as I wouldn't consider a few taps in Tredegar High Street the provision of running water to it."

"Mr Davies has been high on talk and low on action in this community for broadband, and I predict the only announcements we shall see over the issue will time themselves with May's election," he said.

Separately, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru have published an amendment to the Communications Bill claiming that the creation of the new super communications regulator, Ofcom, would not adequately represent interests in Wales or Scotland.

The amendment also claims the current Bill fails to ensure access for all to digital broadcasting and broadband communications.

Echoing Mr Rykala's view of the progress of broadband in Wales, Simon Thomas MP, Plaid Cymru Parliamentary spokesperson on Culture, Media and Sport said: "We see the availability of broadband ... as far away as ever. OFCOM must include Welsh and Scottish representation or else it will fail our nations." ®

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