iCounty strategy gets thumbs up

Free Press Series: SWA MIKE LEWIS 19 2 13 REP[ORTER
PICTURED AT THE SITE OF THE MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNCIL BUILDING, INNOVATION HOUSE, 
COUNCIL LEADER, PETER FOX. (3517190) SWA MIKE LEWIS 19 2 13 REP[ORTER PICTURED AT THE SITE OF THE MONMOUTHSHIRE COUNCIL BUILDING, INNOVATION HOUSE, COUNCIL LEADER, PETER FOX. (3517190)

A WARM reception has been given to Monmouthshire council’s plan to make the authority one of the top areas for digital technology in the UK.

Chepstow Chamber of Commerce's chairman, Andrew Griffiths, welcomed the authority’s iCounty strategy and said anything the council could do to facilitate a better business environment would be a positive step.

He said: “We have a problem in Chepstow with the broadband speeds in some areas and poor mobile phone reception. We look forward to whatever they can do to improve it.”

And he said people in the outer villages around Chepstow find it impossible to obtain sufficient bandwidth to download films.

But he welcomed the plan to promote technology in schools so pupils feel at ease at using it.

Mr Griffiths said: “That would be great. We are all for that. If you work in a shop you have got to work to use touch screens so you best do it [at school].”

On Tuesday, June 17 Monmouthshire council’s cabinet agreed to support the plan and its leader Cllr Peter Fox said the plan was “an imperative part of our future and the future of our communities.”

A Monmouthshire council spokesman said the authority would try to help rolling out improved broadband across the county but that it is not something it could do on its own without help from internet providers.

The strategy was formed with people who work in digital industries and young people and as part of the plan it hopes to help the installation of wi-fi zones, new cloud model for enterprise and government and to promote technology-rich learning in all schools and learning zones.

The speed of Monmouthshire’s broadband speeds will increase under BT’s Superfast Cymru strategy which seeks to install fibre internet in all Welsh homes.

But the pace at which this will take place is varied. According to BT, Chepstow already has superfast broadband but further work must take place in Tintern before a final date will be announced.

Installation work is taking place in Monmouth this month and will be completed in Usk by March 2015.

It is part funded by BT, the Welsh Government and the British Government.

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