£5m investment to roll out super-fast broadband in Hampshire
Hampshire's super-fast broadband plans have received a boost with news that its proposals to increase coverage are to be backed by £5 million of state funding.
Government body Broadband Delivery UK is set to contribute the money toward the county council's strategy, with this cash to be matched by contributions from local public and private sector organisations.
The investment represents a chunk of the £8.4 million allocated by the government to improving broadband connectivity in the region, including the Isle of Wight and the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.
Around 50,000 homes and 7,000 businesses in Hampshire are currently located in broadband notspots, leaving them with very slow speeds of 2Mbps or less.
Under the county council's plans, the combined public and private sector cash will finance the delivery of super-fast broadband with minimum speeds of 24Mbps to at least 90 per cent of properties, while the remaining ten per cent will gain access to download rates of 2Mbps or more.
Without government intervention, estimates suggest only 80 per cent of Hampshire premises will be included in faster broadband deployments from private telecoms firms by 2013.
It is hoped the public money can stimulate investment in communities - largely those in rural areas - that would otherwise miss out on the benefits of next-generation internet access.
Now its broadband plans have been approved, the county council will begin the process of securing a commercial partner to carry out the necessary upgrades. Once this has been achieved, the local authority will publish a timetable for the rollout, with work set to commence in January 2013 and finish by the end of 2015.
Hampshire's draft broadband strategy was approved at the same time as initiatives from Kent and Medway councils, Lincolnshire County Council and local authorities in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin.
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey commented: "I have been impressed by the enthusiasm the majority of councils have shown for seizing the opportunity to roll out super-fast broadband."