Hampshire Broadband Programme ahead of the schedule

Hampshire County Council's Broadband Programme is ahead of schedule, with the first community to be switched on in time for Christmas. Commenting on this latest progress, Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, has reinforced the County Council's commitment to help secure better broadband for residents and businesses across Hampshire.

Councillor Perry this week agreed the release of up to £9.2 million to lever further funding to extend the Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme so that 95% of Hampshire premises have access to superfast broadband, an increase of more than 27,000 premises over and above the current programme. He said: "Access to superfast broadband plays an important role in Hampshire's economic growth and performance. This is why we are working with Government to deliver a programme to boost coverage of superfast broadband to rural areas that would otherwise be left out by commercial providers. It will mean that 90% of premises can access faster reliable broadband by the end of 2015 and we are working on extending this to at least 95% by the end of 2017.

"Hampshire's programme will help fill the gap in smaller, rural areas that would otherwise be left out because the numbers of people who could potentially sign up are not commercially viable for providers. Without our investment, these communities most likely would be left behind, as the broadband service providers invest in more densely populated neighbourhoods where there are greater numbers of people to use their services. Providing Broadband is not a County Council responsibility but nevertheless we want to do what we can to assist residents who would otherwise be left out of the advantages superfast broadband can bring.

"It is widely recognised that the cost for reaching the last 5% of premises using current fibre-based technology would be very high. Central government is consulting on plans to extend coverage to 99% by the end of 2018 and it seems likely that a range of technologies, both new and existing, will feature in this. We think this will include wireless, satellite, and 4G services.

"The County Council is working closely with the Department for Culture Media and Sport to ensure that our plans are integrated with national policy. A further announcement on the Government's approach and future funding plans is expected in the next few months, and we await this with interest."

The County Council will publish details of the additional areas that will be covered by the increase from 90% to 95% as soon as possible next year. The County Council recognises that almost 5% of premises - the most difficult and expensive to reach with fibre - will not be offered Superfast services by the private sector until different solutions and new technologies become available. The high cost of fibre broadband in these areas may mean that an alternative approach will provide a good solution, but Councillor Roy Perry also expressed his intention that the Council should support the concept of 'individual or privately funded' extensions to the broadband infrastructure in these remaining areas as an option where there is sufficient demand and should explore how local communities and parishes may be supported to fund these projects and take them forward where they wish to do so.

"Superfast broadband is an important issue for this Council and we have a very real interest in making sure that the private sector suppliers of broadband services will, over the coming years, offer superfast services to as many of the people and businesses in Hampshire as possible."


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