Gloucestershire backs £7.5m super-fast broadband investment
Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) has given the green light to a multimillion-pound investment in the area's rural broadband infrastructure.
A meeting of the local authority's budget cabinet on Wednesday (February 1st 2012) saw councillors agree the proposal, which will see £7.5 million directed toward Borders Broadband, a joint venture between Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.
The scheme aims to deliver universal access to broadband with download capabilities of up to 2Mbps by 2015, while rolling out next-generation services with speeds of up to 30Mbps to as many properties as possible. By 2018, it is hoped super-fast broadband could reach 100 per cent of homes and businesses across the county.
Now that the proposal has won the support of the cabinet, it will be put to a full meeting of the council on February 22nd.
The £7.5 million, which will be spent over the next two years, represents match-funding for the amount allocated by the government to improve Gloucestershire broadband services and is expected to draw further investment from the private sector. Herefordshire Council has committed £6 million to the Borders Broadband initiative.
Councillors are yet to select a telecoms firm to carry out the necessary work, but are hoping to do so by no later than May, allowing the rollout to begin this autumn.
Mark Hawthorne, leader of GCC, commented: "This is a major opportunity for Gloucestershire and in tough times we have to be willing to make brave decisions.
"High-speed broadband will make a huge difference to our rural communities, opening up opportunities for business, creating jobs and providing a lifeline to many residents."
Last November, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt heaped praise on Gloucestershire's broadband plans, stating the county council is "on fire with excitement" at the prospect of delivering super-fast connectivity to remote and rural parts of the area.
Commenting on the need to raise awareness of the plan, he added: "We've got to do everything we can to bang the drum."