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Cash boost for broadband in schools

A new 40 million scheme to improve broadband access in Welsh schools will be a good use of taxpayers' money, First Minister Carwyn Jones has insisted.

The Welsh Government unveiled the Learning in Digital Wales Grant - which aims to give pupils access faster, high-quality broadband services.

The investment will initially comprise of 27 million capital funding for local authorities to upgrade internet connections in their schools.

Mr Jones said: "My view of broadband has always been that it is the 21st Century equivalent of railway lines in the 19th century. It is that essential. If you are far away from a railway line then you were economically isolated. So broadband is exceptionally important for Wales.

"We want Wales to be a world leader in digital learning, therefore we need to be able to offer our schools fast, consistent and reliable broadband services. This investment will ensure that, by 2014, primary and secondary schools in Wales will have access to safe and secure world-class broadband services needed to deliver a world-class digital education."

The announcement was made by the Labour First Minister during his monthly press conference, which took place in the Welsh Government's offices in Cathays Park, Cardiff.

Officials said the first wave of funding will see 7 million handed to Wales' public sector internet provider, Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA), to upgrade its core network and provide a faster broadband service to schools.

The remaining 20 million capital funding will be allocated to local authorities over two financial years 2012-13 and 2013-14.

A spokesman said: "The funding will allow local authorities to improve connection speeds to the PSBA network to a minimum of 100Mbps for each secondary school and 10Mbps for each primary and special school by 2014."

The rest of the cash will then provided in the form of funding for the revenue costs of improved broadband services between 2013 to 2015. Government officials say the scheme will build on its educational programme Hwb. Launched last year, Hwb will allow teachers and learners to access online resources "anywhere, at anytime" and "from any internet enabled device".

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