Next step on route to Superfast broadband

SUPERFAST broadband across Harborough district is a step closer after Leicestershire County Council approved a £8.4m spending package.

The authority is ploughing £4m into the project to connect rural homes and businesses which would not otherwise benefit from the internet revolution being rolled out by British Telecom.

A further £1.1m is coming from district councils in the county, including £530,000 from Harborough District Council, which will guarantee the district is included in the first phase of improvements to the network.

The Government is investing the remaining £3.3m into the project, which it is estimated could bring about £92m of economic growth in the county over the next seven years.

The county council last week agreed to lead the project on behalf of district councils.

Council leader Nick Rushton said: “Rural communities and businesses can play a major role in the county’s future, if they have the high speed connections they need.

“By investing in superfast broadband, we can bring about a multi-million pound boost to the local economy, which will benefit everyone.”

The project comes after BT announced a £2.5 billion investment in superfast broadband across the UK – but only in areas it deems commercially viable.

This would leave large swathes of rural Leicestershire – including most of the north of Harborough district – without the improved internet speeds.

The county council-led project will fill in the gaps, by connecting such areas.

It is expected that a supplier will be contracted by the summer and the superfast links will be completed in 2015.