Nottinghamshire County Council has been given the green light to press ahead with £17m plans to improve broadband access to 116,000 homes and businesses across the county.
The European Union (EU) finally gave the go ahead for local authority broadband procurement projects around the UK this week.
The majority of councils in England and Wales, including Nottinghamshire County Council, had been awaiting clearance from the EU before they could go ahead and procure infrastructure work from the telecoms companies.
The announcement has been welcomed by Councillor Keith Girling, Chairman of the County Council’s economic development committee.
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. We’ve now moved forward with our Open Market Review. The next stage will be to map out those areas where we will be able to use public funds to co-invest in the necessary upgrade work. We’ll go out to tender in February and award a contract at the end of May. That means work on the ground will start by the autumn of 2013.”
Nottinghamshire County Council’s Local Broadband Plan is for 90% of the County to have access to superfast broadband speeds by 2015 and for everyone to have access to speeds of at least 2 Mbps.
An estimated 116,000 homes and businesses in Nottinghamshire will benefit from the roll out of the plan. Rural areas, many of which have little or no access to broadband currently, will benefit the greatest with an estimated 47,000 properties in Bassetlaw and 32,000 properties in Newark and Sherwood being supported.
Nottinghamshire 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.
Further information on the Nottinghamshire Broadband plan, including the full timetable for its implementation, is available at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/broadband . Residents and businesses can still pledge their support for the campaign by visiting the website.