The Scheme provides a grant of up to £1,000 to residents, businesses and third sector organisations in broadband notspots to enable them to obtain a broadband connection using the most appropriate technology available.
The £2m project launched in 2010 was due to end this financial year but Mrs Hart is now extending the project to ensure the Welsh Government can respond to individuals with immediate broadband issues.
It will operate in parallel to the Next Generation Broadband for Wales (NGBW) project which will bring high speed broadband to homes and businesses that the market will not reach unaided.
The NGBW project is on track to identify a winning bidder in March 2012, with the roll out of infrastructure beginning later that year, and concluding in 2015.
Mrs Hart said the Broadband Support scheme has been very successful and to date more than 2000 applications have been approved with a further 230 being assessed.
"It is filling a real need and making a difference to individuals, businesses and communities enabling them to participate in the benefits of the digital age.
"Terminating the Broadband Support Scheme in March 2012 could leave a potential gap in our ability to support people with immediate broadband issues. I am therefore pleased to announce we are extending the scheme to provide continuity during the early roll-out of next generation broadband and will continue to review the relevance of the Broadband Support Scheme during this period."
To date 2,038 applications have been approved, which includes funding for sixteen community schemes covering 918 homes, representing a financial commitment of £1,662,709.
A further 232 applications are currently being assessed with interest from another ten community schemes (covering 1,055 potential applicants).
Community cheers for Broadband Support Scheme
Ian Cummings who is set to launch Newport’s only micro-brewery creating 100 jobs is happy to toast the benefits of the Welsh Government’s Broadband Support Scheme.
Ian is director of Evol (Wales) Ltd, which trades across a number of sectors including construction, property and investment and is due to launch his latest venture - the Tiny Rebel Brewing Company - later this month, which is set to create 100 jobs over the next three years.
His businesses are based in Newport, although Evol currently operates from Ian's home in St. Brides Wentlooge – a broadband notspot with a very poor and slow broadband connection. It meant it could take up to 30 minutes to download a file.
Now thanks to support from the Broadband Support Scheme, which provides funding towards the set-up and installation costs of a broadband connection in notspots, Ian has a high speed connection and delighted with the results.
"Running a number of businesses requires a strong, fast, reliable internet connection and it has been essential while setting up Tiny Rebel Brewing Company. We are in constant communication with the Tiny Rebel Studios in Los Angeles, a games software manufacturer which is run by my son and our graphic and website designers in Canada," he said.
"Our new connection is tremendous. It means our download speeds have increased dramatically enabling us to work more efficiently and improve communication, especially with our overseas suppliers. "
The company is now also able to carry out on-line research into different markets while the use of on-line banking has improved the payment process to their supply chain.
High speed broadband has been essential in developing plans to launch Tiny Rebel Brewing Company. The company plans to develop a chain of Tap Houses and employ up to 100 people over the next three years. Its first acquisition is the Navigation House in Abercynon that is currently being refurbished
Ian is one of nearly fifty people in the village - residents, businesses and organisations - who together made a successful community application to the Broadband Support Scheme for funding.
On a visit to the St Brides scheme, Business Minister Edwina Hart heard villagers are now receiving broadband speeds of at least 4Mbps, with some enjoying speeds up to 20Mbps.
Mrs Hart, who announced the extension of the scheme today, said she was pleased to see so many benefiting from the project including Tiny Rebel Brewing Company’s expansion plans.
"The St Brides project is one of many community schemes we are supporting around Wales and demonstrates how effective the Broadband Support Scheme is in eradicating notspots and supporting communities to deliver a sustainable broadband service to rural areas of Wales."
A family run business, Evol (Wales) Limited was established in 2003 and its first acquisition was Whitehead Building Services. Ian Cummings experience and expertise of developing a business turned Whitehead from a business with a turnover of £2.7m in 2003 to the £18m turnover business it is today.
Over 130 people are employed within the group with this figure set to increase with the launch of the Tiny Rebel Brewery and its Tap Houses .
Tiny Rebel Brewing Company evolved over a year ago with research and development brews being conducted from Ian's garage and his son-in-law, Gareth, is now taking over the reigns as head brewer.