Derbyshire’s biggest ever broadband transformation has moved a step closer after being given the go-ahead to move forward.
Derbyshire County Council is leading the Digital Derbyshire programme which will invest at least £14.78m to bring the county’s biggest ever broadband improvement by 2015.
The programme, which is part of the Government’s Broadband Development UK (BDUK) scheme, has now been given permission to move to the procurement phase.
It means Digital Derbyshire is carrying out an Open Market Review − consulting commercial companies to establish what broadband provision is currently available and what plans there are for improvements in the next three years.
Areas where provision is lacking will then be identified as potential zones for Digital Derbyshire investment.
Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “We’ve had fantastic backing for our Digital Derbyshire programme and getting the go-ahead to enter the procurement phase is another major step forward.
“Residents and businesses have showed a strong demand for better broadband right across the county.
“We recognise their frustrations with no connectivity and slow speeds and that is why we have made it a priority to drive improvements in areas which have been left behind because they are unattractive for commercial investment alone.
“We were one of the first authorities to have our local broadband plan approved by BDUK and this announcement again shows the progress we are making to keep us at the forefront of this exciting project.”
Digital Derbyshire has secured £7.39m from the BDUK scheme and has pledged match funding to ensure that at least £14.78m will be spent across the county on broadband improvements.
Around 180,000 Derbyshire properties are in so called ‘white areas’ where speeds are currently less than 2Mbps.
White areas, many of which are rural, are being targeted for upgrade in the Digital Derbyshire programme, and many other areas will benefit too.
By 2015 Digital Derbyshire will:
• bring superfast broadband (up to 30mbs) to 90 per cent of Derbyshire premises
• make a minimum speed of 2Mbps available to the remaining 10 per cent
• once the information is gathered from the Open Market Review, Digital Derbyshire will then be in a position to seek a commercial partner to deliver its ambitious programme.
Councillor Parkinson added: “We had one of our biggest ever survey responses when over 6,500 residents and businesses shared their experience of broadband in Derbyshire last year.
“Now it’s vital that as many people as possible complete our demand registration at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/digitalderbyshire to keep us ahead of other areas when commercial partners are looking where to invest.
“I’d like to thank the 3,200 people who have already taken a few minutes to do this and would urge others to follow their lead and help strengthen Derbyshire’s case further for better broadband.”