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Fast broadband on the way to rural areas
RURAL Dorset is a step closer to having access to superfast broadband after potential infrastructure providers were invited to bid for the contract.
Dorset County Council is leading the project to achieve investment of £19million of public funds to ensure rural communities don’t get left behind.
Dorset has around 87,000 homes and businesses which would not have access to superfast broadband without this project.
Robert Gould, the council’s spokesman for the environment, said it was an ‘important milestone’ for the project.
He said: “We are already seeing benefits in the towns where commercial providers are already upgrading their networks. But Dorset contains huge rural areas which would be left behind without this project.
“We have £9.44million from the Government and, with our partners, are investing a further £9.44million of local public funds.” The partners include the district and borough councils, businesses and community groups.
Coun Deborah Croney, leader of North Dorset District Council, said the project team has worked hard to adopt the right approach.
She said: “The approach we have taken aims to ensure all rural areas will have access to faster speeds and most areas will have superfast speeds. We now need to consider all the options to make sure we push superfast as far as it is possible.”
Providers are expected to invest a further £19million of their own resources in the Dorset network.
They have until mid April to bid to provide access to speeds of at least 24Mbps to 95 per cent of businesses and homes across Dorset.
Premises which don’t get access to superfast broadband will get an upgrade to at least 2Mbps, with many getting much higher speeds than that. Currently one in five get just 0.5Mbps.
MORE JOBS AND ECONOMIC BOOST
BT has announced a further expansion of high-speed fibre broadband in Dorset, which is expected to help create jobs and boost the local economy.
Another 18,000 homes and businesses in the county are to be included in BT’s £2.5 billion commercial roll-out of fibre broadband in the UK.
The latest Dorset communities to benefit are Swanage and Gillingham. They will be upgraded by the end of Spring 2014.
South Dorset MP Richard Drax welcomed the advance.
He said: “This is excellent news.
“It will connect Swanage to the wider world in a way that has simply not been possible before.
“I am delighted that BT has seen fit to make this investment, particularly during these tough economic times.
“Anything that makes our businesses more competitive in this interconnected world must be welcomed. “