The majority of homes and businesses in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are set to benefit from access to superfast broadband speeds due to a multi-million pound partnership between local authorities and BT.
Staffordshire Broadband, a project led by the county council along with colleagues at Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership, has agreed a deal with the telecoms provider that will see high-speed fibre broadband installed throughout the area by spring 2016.
This will result in around 472,000 premises being connected to the advanced networks, with 95 per cent of homes and businesses in the county having access to speeds of at least 24Mbps.
The county council has made fast internet provisions a priority as it provides new opportunities for residents and gives them a mean to help boost the local economy. Therefore, it has invested £7.44 million into the scheme, which will be matched by funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). BT will provide an additional £12.447 million towards the project.
Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council cabinet member for economy and infrastructure, said: "We see this infrastructure as important as road or rail in providing the accessibility and opportunities for our residents and businesses. It will ensure we can compete with other areas of the UK and Europe."
The signing of the contract, which was awarded to BT following a procurement exercise through BDUK the framework, was also welcomed by communications minister Ed Vaizey.
He said the agreement is "fantastic news" for people and businesses in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and will help ensure 95 per cent of the area's population is able to see the benefits of high-speed broadband.
Mr Vaizey continued: "The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and this project will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy."
The news comes shortly after is was confirmed that a separate BT investment in Oxfordshire will bring superfast broadband to 3,300 premises in Chipping Norton.
Posted by Mark Wynn