As the nights are drawing in, now that the clocks have gone back, many of us will be spending more of our evenings at home, and looking to TV and the internet for our evenings’ entertainment.
Changes to licensing conditions mean that those using BBC iPlayer will require an up-to-date TV License, and may see more people moving to other catch-up and on-demand services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. Such services are preferred by some people, yet require a good internet connection to be able to stream the programmes.
Sadly, here in Wales we face the challenge of a ‘digital divide’ – on two fronts.
Firstly, broadband coverage. Despite the Welsh Government’s aim for all homes and businesses to have access to Next Generation Broadband by 2015, just 73% of such properties have such access.
In the Welsh Conservatives debate last week, I highlighted this issue to the Welsh Government once more, calling for more support and resources for the work of the Minister, Julie James, in rolling out superfast broadband to all.
Secondly, digital skills. Wales has the highest rate of non-internet usage in the UK, and Conwy has one of the lowest levels of Digital Skills, with just 39% of adults using all five Basic Digital Skills in the last three months. Furthermore, 18.9% of adults in Conwy have never been online.
Whilst using the internet is not for everyone, it is a very useful resource. More and more opportunities and services are available online, including ways to save money by comparing prices and providers. Indeed, broadband is often referred to as the ‘fourth utility’, after water, gas and electricity!
The five Skills are: Managing Information, Communicating, Transacting, Problem Solving and Creating. There are plenty of opportunities to learn these skills – Conwy County Borough Council runs IT courses at many libraries across the county, for example. You can find out more by contacting your local library, or the IT Tutor Anna Hutchinson on 07835 420 205.
Finally, Remembrance Sunday this weekend gives us all the chance to pay tribute those who have so bravely sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom. Services across the country will be held to ensure that no-one is forgotten as the nation unites to honour all who have suffered or died in war. I will be laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in Llandudno, and hope that you are all able to remember, in your own way, those who have given so much for us all.