Faster Broadband For Hampshire?
Hampshire County Council has re-submitted its proposals to secure Government funding for faster broadband.
The Council is expecting the outcome of its bid early in the New Year and, if successful, could see a Â£10million plus investment in boosting broadband coverage and speeds mainly in rural areas across the county.
Today, more than 114,000 households and nearly 7,000 businesses in Hampshire currently have poor broadband services with very slow speeds or, even worse, no service at all.
The Broadband project will target areas that are unlikely to be upgraded through existing market forces. The funding would mean that 90% of Hampshire would have access to superfast broadband, with minimum speeds of 20Mbps. It will also help the County Council achieve its ultimate aim to deliver Broadband, of at least 2Mbps, to the whole of Hampshire.
Councillor Ken Thornber, Leader of Hampshire County Council and Chairman of the Hampshire Senate, said:
"Broadband has become an integral part of every day life. It allows people to work and run businesses from home and increases access to education, employment and leisure.
"Increasingly Information and services are being delivered using digital channels. It is therefore important that we work to close the 'digital divide', which sees urban housing estates receiving superfast broadband but rural villages just half a mile away getting little or no internet access.
"It is essential that, even in times of financial constraint, we invest in projects such as this because of the long term benefits they can bring. By getting involved in the delivery of superfast broadband for areas that if left to the market would not benefit, we will be reducing inequality and helping local residents and business have better access. It will also enable the public sector in Hampshire to provide more services online, driving down delivery costs."
In August, the Government announced that the national allocation of £530 million, included £8.4 million that had been set aside for rural and hard to reach areas in Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton, and the Isle of Wight.
In order to secure this funding the councils have to submit a successful project proposal and put up funds to match the money coming from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
The administrative area of Hampshire County Council is bidding for £5million and it is proposed that the County Council put up £2.5million as match funding, with the district and borough councils each providing a share of the remaining £2.5million over the period of the programme.
The funding approach has been presented to the Hampshire Senate and is subject to further discussions with partners. Joint funding by the Senate organisations has already been shown to work with the successful 'Insulate Hampshire' scheme.