Faster broadband set for rural blackspots

FASTER broadband speeds could be coming to some of the borough’s rural blackspots from next year.

Hampshire County Council has started the search for a commercial partner to bring faster broadband to areas of the county with too few people for providers to cover the costs of upgrading the network.

The move follows Culture Secretary and Basingstoke MP Maria Miller’s announcement that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has received the green light from the European Union to roll out the £530million rural broadband scheme across the UK.

Hampshire will receive £5m of Government cash which will be matched by a further £5m made up from county council, district and borough council contributions.

Government targets for the county are that by 2015, 90 per cent of premises in Hampshire can get super fast broadband at 24Mbps, and remaining properties in hard to reach areas receive at least 2Mbps.

The commercial partner is set to be appointed early next year, and work to upgrade the network is scheduled to start by summer 2013, and be completed by the end of 2015.

Hampshire County Council leader Councillor Ken Thornber has welcomed the Government cash, and called for people to sign up to the county’s faster broadband campaign in a bid to show internet firms the level of demand for a faster service.

“Investment in faster broadband speeds is vital for our local communities and businesses to thrive and grow. At this crucial point, when we are going out to tender, we want as many people as possible to sign up to our campaign. Evidence of demand will show the commercial partner that there are plenty of potential customers,” he said.

You can visit hants.gov.uk/ broadband to find out more.

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