Rural businesses and communities are set to benefit from improved broadband access in Worcestershire as part of a £45 million boost by the government.
The new funding for the government’s Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme adds to the £30 million investment announced last year, increasing the total pot of funding available to £75 million. Worcestershire is in line to get £1.5m.
Ken Pollock, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “Superfast Worcestershire is delighted to be one of the very few projects to have secured an initial £1.5 million funding from DEFRA’s Rural Development Programme for England.
“A faster broadband connection remains a priority for our economy and education, as part of our support for rural communities. With one in three businesses based in the countryside, it’s more important than ever that we ensure that superfast broadband reaches such enterprises in rural Worcestershire.
“The additional funding is set to complement existing projects and funding streams and provides a further opportunity to extend the superfast and ultrafast infrastructure to the remaining 4% of Worcestershire premises. This not only supports our local businesses but additionally benefits surrounding communities, residents and schools as they too gain access to the improved infrastructure.”
The money will be made available through grants to local authorities that have already applied for funding, in areas where broadband services at speeds of 30Mbps or faster are not available or planned. The funding will be used to support full fibre wherever possible.
It follows the launch of the Government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review this week which outlined plans to prioritise hard-to-reach rural areas for roll out of full fibre connectivity.
Rural Affairs Minister, Lord Gardiner, said: “Rural areas should not be left behind in the connectivity slow lane, missing out on the opportunities high speed broadband can bring.
“The funding made available through the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme champions our countryside communities and businesses by opening up access to broadband of at least 30 Megabits per second, in some of the most hard to reach areas.”
The increased funding for the Rural Broadband Infrastructure Scheme follows a positive response and a high number of applications from local authorities. It is part of planned investment of at least £3.5 billion into our rural economies by 2020, supporting the quarter of businesses in the UK which are based in the countryside.
The scheme is delivered by the Rural Payments Agency and supports those rural areas which are not currently scheduled to receive broadband as part of commercial delivery plans or under the Government’s Superfast Broadband Programme, which expects to give access to superfast broadband to around 97% of UK premises over the next few years.
With nearly a fifth of people living in the countryside, it is important that the needs of rural communities are heard loud and clear across government. In addition to driving forward high speed internet, the government is championing housing availability and supporting job creation.