AN INTERNET Broadband Support Scheme will start next month to enable individuals and communities in rural Wales' suffering from 'not-spots' to approach service providers directly, with support of Assembly Government funding.

One off support grants will be available for up to a maximum of £1,000 for individual premises.

A spokesman for BT said that a broadband 'not-spot' is usually the result of the distance a person lives from their local telephone exchange. He added: "The further away they are from the telephone exchange, the weaker the broadband signal becomes."

The Welsh Government have allocated an initial funding of around £2 million for individuals to seek broadband provision using mobile phone technology or satellite providers.

One person who could benefit from the scheme is Sue Hannen who lives in rural Llangenny, she said: "I have had numerous internet providers offering to install broadband as dial up is costing me a fortune.

"But despite their promises, every time they come to the same conclusion that my house is unable to receive broadband. I've even had a new line installed and even this did not resolve the problem.

"It seems I am one percent of the population that are unable to receive this service."

On hearing the news that she should be eligible for the scheme, Sue said: "At last I can join the real world. Dial up is driving me crazy and doing anything this way takes just seems to take forever and a day, literally."

Elin Jones, the Welsh Government's Minister for Rural Affairs said at the launch of the Broadband Support Scheme: "Broadband services are vital to ensure our country can develop the knowledge economy, improving the ability of businesses and individuals to network and innovate.

"So despite current pressures on our budget we were determined to find ways of opening up access for the relatively few areas in Wales that remain unable to benefit from broadband services.

"This scheme continues our commitment to provide improved services for rural areas and in particular access to the internet which is critical for those living and working across Wales."

Details of how individuals can apply for grants will be published later this month.

Meanwhile rural broadband customers who can already access the internet could be in for a cheaper service following Ofcom's announcement that BT must cut the amount it charges other broadband companies to use their equipment in rural telephone exchanges.

Roger Williams, the MP for Brecon and Radnorshire said "I have been campaigning to bring affordable broadband to Wales ever since I was first elected. Broadband is no longer a luxury but, for many people, is an essential service.

"Ofcom's decision is most welcome. It means that other internet service providers who pay to use BT equipment to provide their broadband service are charged less so they can pass on these savings to their customers.