Herefordshire and Gloucestershire have created a broadband first by becoming the first counties to launch a joint bid to bring fibre to rural areas.
The £56.6m project will see fibre deployed to the counties within four years. As a result, nine in ten homes and businesses will have access to fibre.
Those homes and businesses that are harder to reach with a fixed fibre line are to be connected using alternative new broadband technologies.
Openreach – BT network access division – is to use the first half of 2013 planning the roll-out. The first fibre is expected to be laid during the second half of next year and being completed by the end of 2016.
The announcement is the latest to be announced under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. According to a statement, £18.17m of the funds will come from BDUK, £10.1m from Herefordshire Council, £7.5m from Gloucestershire County Council and £20.9m from BT.
Said Herefordshire Council leader, John Jarvis: “Today’s announcement will see Herefordshire becoming one of the most fibre-enabled counties in the country, after struggling with slower broadband speeds in the past.
“This project will really put the county on the map, attracting more businesses to the county, helping existing ones grow and enabling rural properties become less isolated,” he said.
Gloucestershire County Council leader, Mark Hawthorne, was also keen to highlight the importance of fibre for the local economy.
“The County Council has a commitment to help Gloucestershire grow by investing in better skills, infrastructure and homes – for young people, for business and for the community.
“This deal enables us to put in place an infrastructure to support growing businesses and help people live where they want to live,” he said.