39-year-old mum of one from Llanharan is showcasing how superfast broadband is making a real difference as part of a new campaign to promote its benefits and encourage further adoption across Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Rebekah Thomas, who lives with her two-year-old son Harrison and husband Lee, is supporting the Welsh Government campaign after experiencing first-hand how a superfast internet service has enabled her to stay in touch with friends and family living abroad.
With conventional broadband not adequately enabling her to Skype friends living in Nigeria and Sydney, Rebekah signed up to a superfast connection as soon as it became available in her area.
Rebekah said: “As soon as I switched to superfast I immediately noticed the difference on Skype calls to my friends living abroad. The sound quality is so much better now and the picture is crystal clear instead of grainy. The upgrade has enabled me to stay in touch with them on a regular basis, particularly with my best friend Rebecca, who lives in Nigeria and is currently planning her wedding.
“Since she got engaged in the summer and asked me to be a bridesmaid we have been speaking via Skype up to three times a week!
“Her wedding is taking place in Mexico in April and she wants me involved in every decision. She will call me to ask for advice on everything from shoes, table decorations and dresses to make-up, hair and flowers. The other week she even Skyped me to check how long my hair was and for feedback on her make-up after having a wedding trial.”
“The great connection means we can speak as much as we like for as long as we like while also helping to reduce the distance between us. Sometimes we both sit with a glass of wine chatting through plans and I feel like I am sitting on the sofa in her lounge with her.
“In addition to using Skype to stay in touch with Becky in Nigeria and my friend Abi in Sydney, my son also insists on Skyping his grandparents in Swansea and Ystrad Mynach on a daily basis. I also do all my shopping online from grocery to clothes, so a superfast connection makes this all so much simpler.”
Rebekah added that many of her colleagues and friends simply aren’t aware of its benefits, or are under the impression it’s far more expensive than conventional broadband.
She continued: “I’m surprised how many people don’t have it. I wanted superfast for ages, so as soon as it became available I was able to take advantage of a deal from my current provider which meant it was the same cost as regular broadband.”
With 95% of the Superfast Cymru roll-out programme complete in Rhondda Cynon Taf, the Welsh Government superfast campaign is aiming to promote superfast broadband to residents to demonstrate its benefits and encourage its further use across the county.
While most of the county can now access faster broadband should they wish to do so, a small percentage of premises are not yet able to access it. Assistance is also available for them on the Welsh Government website or by contacting the Welsh Government broadband team.*
Welsh Government Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, said: “While the majority of homes in Rhondda Cynon Taf can now access superfast broadband should they wish, many people are simply not fully aware of its benefits or how it can be accessed. As Rebekah’s story shows, faster broadband speeds are enabling people to stay in touch more easily while also making it easier to carry out daily activities with greater speed and efficiency than ever before. This includes activities such as downloading large learning resources for children, managing bank accounts, shopping for groceries, paying household bills or using video services such as Skype.
“We want as many people as possible to realise these benefits, and this campaign is aiming to showcase how the technology is impacting thousands of lives in communities across Wales.”
Households and businesses in Rhondda Cynon Taf wanting to take advantage of the benefits of fast fibre broadband should contact an internet service provider (ISP) of their choice to place an order.
*To find out what broadband is available, people are advised to visit www.gov.wales/broadband.
This also includes information for those not yet able to receive superfast broadband as support may be available through the Welsh Government’s Access Broadband Cymru scheme, which provides grant funding to access superfast broadband through other means.
Representatives from Welsh Government will also be on-hand to chat to local people about Superfast broadband at Mountain Ash shopping centre on 10th February and Talbot Green shopping centre on 24th February.