£17m project gets go-ahead to boost broadband speeds
NOTTS County Council has been given the green light for a £17 million broadband scheme that will benefit more than 100,000 homes.
The council has campaigned to improve broadband speeds and received 5,000 pledges of support from residents and businesses.
Now, the European Union has given the go-ahead for the scheme.
The announcement has been welcomed by Keith Girling, chairman of the county economic development committee.
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He said: "We're delighted that we are now able to go ahead with our plan to upgrade the broadband infrastructure across Nottinghamshire.
"We feel strongly that superfast broadband is vital for the local economy, to help our businesses remain competitive and to reduce the digital divide between towns and rural areas
"We've had more than 5,000 people pledge their support for better broadband in our recent campaign, which proves the strength of feeling here."
Councils in England and Wales had been awaiting clearance from the EU before they could start looking for telecom companies to put in the infrastructure needed.
The EU decision was vital because the EU controls the distribution of state aid to infrastructure projects which would normally be paid for with private money.
The next stage will be a mapping project to decide the areas where public funds will be used to upgrade work.
The authority will put the work out to tender in February and award the contract in May.
Mr Girling said that meant work on the ground could start by autumn next year.
The council's plan is for 90 per cent of the county to have access to superfast broadband by 2015 and for everyone to have access to speeds of at least 2mbps.
An estimated 116,000 homes and businesses in Notts will benefit from the plan.
Rural areas, many of which have little or no access to broadband, will benefit the most, with an estimated 47,000 properties in Bassetlaw and 32,000 properties in Newark and Sherwood being supported.
The county council estimates that the upgrade of the broadband network will cost £17m, with £8.5m being provided by the Government, the county council and district and borough councils. The remaining £8.5m would be met by whichever company is selected to implement the upgrade.
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