The Superfast Dorset programme has been hailed a ‘fantastic success’ after reaching 8,000 local homes and businesses.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey has praised the success of the £31.75 million Superfast Dorset programme as it reached a major milestone.

The programme, which was first announced a year ago, has already made high-speed technology available to more than 8,000 local homes and businesses.

The second phase of the programme will reach a further 10,000 Dorset premises by the end of the year in parts of Abbotsbury, Dorchester, Maiden Newton, Preston, Puddletown, Upwey and Warmwell.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This is fantastic news – Dorset has achieved a lot in the year since the rollout began and I’m delighted that already so many homes and businesses are enjoying access to superfast broadband speeds as a result of the programme. We understand how important superfast broadband is, and the widespread access to this “fourth utility” that our rollout will deliver will provide a tremendous boost to the Dorset economy.”

Dorset County Council signed a multi-million pound contract with BT last July to provide fibre broadband access to more than 80,000 premises. This, together with BT and other providers’ commercial roll-out, will make Superfast fibre broadband available to 95% of the county by the end of 2016.

Peter Finney, Dorset County Council Environment portfolio holder, said: “This is the most significant investment in infrastructure that Dorset councils, working together, have ever embarked on. Thousands of people can already benefit and the high coverage we will achieve by 2016 will make Dorset even more competitive as a great place to live, work and build businesses.”

Bill Murphy, BT Group’s managing director of next generation access, said: “Superfast Dorset has been making strong progress since it was launched a year ago. The first homes and businesses in the county to benefit from the partnership already have access to this exciting technology. With our recent announcement of the second phase of the programme, many more rural communities will be connected.

“High speed fibre broadband will boost the competitiveness of local businesses as well as providing new learning and entertainment opportunities for households.”

Dorset resident and self-proclaimed “silver surfer” Peter Maddocks talks about how it has improved his life. “I got my first computer when I was 73 years old. I thought I was a bit past such new gadgetry but believe me you are never too old and now I am 85 my computer with its access to the internet has become virtually essential.”

“Thanks to the introduction of superfast fibre broadband you get your information more quickly and more easily. Now it is normal to pay my bills such as council tax, my gas and electricity, car and home insurance often with a discount for online billing.”