Coun­cil ap­proves plans to fire up county’s broad­band

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Star Courier (Surrey & Hants) - - NEWS - By Char­lotte Neal

TEN thou­sand more homes and busi­nesses in Hamp­shire will have ac­cess to su­per­fast in­ter­net speeds as part of a £ 7.8 mil­lion ex­ten­sion to the Hamp­shire Su­per­fast Broad­band scheme – which has been ap­proved by the leader of Hamp­shire County Coun­cil.

At his Pol­icy and Re­sources De­ci­sion Day on Wed­nes­day last week ( De­cem­ber 14), Coun­cil­lor Roy Perry gave the green light to plans which will ex­tend su­per­fast speeds of 24 megabits per sec­ond ( Mbps) to 97.4% of county prop­er­ties by 2019.

“This is vi­tal in­vest­ment to en­sure Hamp­shire busi­nesses and fam­i­lies con­tinue to thrive in to­day’s dig­i­tal world, par­tic­u­larly in harder to reach, ru­ral parts of the county which make up the re­main­ing few per cent,” Cllr Perry said.

“We are com­mit­ted leav­ing no- one be­hind.

“As a county coun­cil, we do not have any statu­tory obli­ga­tions to in­crease ac­cess to su­per­fast broad­band – that rests with the Gov­ern­ment.

“How­ever, we recog­nise that this in­fra­struc­ture is cru­cial for the fu­ture pros­per­ity of the county which is why we’re con­tin­u­ing to in­vest in this tech­nol­ogy with our part­ners, such as BT, to sup­port the lo­cal econ­omy, help pupils with ed­u­ca­tion and home­work, and re­duce so­cial iso­la­tion by mak­ing it eas­ier for peo­ple to com­mu­ni­cate on­line.”

Wave One Hamp­shire Broad­band has to of the Su­per­fast al­ready de­liv­ered su­per­fast broad­band to 59,500 premises, in­creas­ing cov­er­age from 80% to 90% of the county.

Wave Two will de­liver to a fur­ther 34,500 premises by Septem­ber 2018, in­creas­ing cov­er­age from 90% to 96% of Hamp­shire prop­er­ties.

The new £ 6.8m ex­ten­sion of Wave Two will in­crease ac­cess to an­other 8,500 prop­er­ties by 2019. This will boost su­per­fast cov­er­age to 97.4% of the county.

A fur­ther 2,000 premises could also be reached through the £ 1m Com­mu­nity Match Fund­ing Scheme which al­lows the County Coun­cil to pro­vide up to half of the fund­ing for com­mu­ni­ties who want to self- fund.

By the end of the pro­gramme in 2019, Hamp­shire County Coun­cil will have in­vested £ 12.9m – with £ 16.4m from the Depart­ment for Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport and £ 1.25m coun­cils.

A fur­ther £ 7.8m be­came avail­able from ex­ist­ing fund­ing and gain­share, a clause in the con­tract with BT which re­leases more fund­ing, to be rein­vested if more peo­ple than ex­pected sign up to su­per­fast broad­band.

Cllr Perry added: “We will be mak­ing fur­ther ap­proaches to the En­ter­prise M3 and So­lent Lo­cal En­ter­prise Part­ner­ships and dis­trict coun­cils to ask them to join our com­mit­ment and in­vest more fund­ing in the su­per­fast broad­band pro­gramme – and help as many Hamp­shire res­i­dents as we can.”

Stacey King, BT’s re­gional part­ner­ship di­rec­tor for the south east, said: “To­day’s an­nounce­ment is an­other im­por­tant mile­stone for a part­ner­ship which is mak­ing great progress.

“Work­ing with Hamp­shire from dis­trict County Coun­cil, we are able to bring high- speed fi­bre broad­band to lo­ca­tions where the eco­nom­ics and engi­neer­ing are more chal­leng­ing.

“High- speed fi­bre broad­band is in­creas­ingly im­por­tant and this is a great op­por­tu­nity for more homes and busi­nesses to make the most of the wide range ben­e­fits that are of­fered by the in­ter­net.”

De­tailed plans will be de­vel­oped with part­ners to iden­tify the spe­cific ar­eas which will ben­e­fit from the new ex­ten­sion.

With the tech­nol­ogy and in­fra­struc­ture in place, res­i­dents and busi­nesses then need to ac­tively sign up for the im­proved broad­band ser­vice via a choice of in­ter­net ser­vice providers.

Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion can be found at www. hamp­shire su­per­fast­broad­band. com

An­to­nio Guillem

The county coun­cil, along­side part­ners such as BT, are hop­ing to end broad­band mis­ery.

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