At his Policy and Resources Decision Day (14 December), 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.
Councillor Perry said: “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. We are committed to 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 1 of the Hampshire Superfast Broadband has already delivered superfast broadband to 59,500 premises, increasing coverage from 80% to 90% of the county. Wave 2 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 2 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 from district 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.
Councillor Perry said: “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 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.hampshiresuperfastbroadband.com