Via Bucks County Council:

An £18.06 million project to transform broadband speeds for thousands more businesses and residents across Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire was announced on Friday June 21.

Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Councils have signed a contract with BT which will see fibre broadband becoming available to more than 90 per cent of premises in the two counties by the end of March 2016. This is a major step forward for the Connected Counties programme which is run jointly by the two County Councils.

The Connected Counties programme will make fibre broadband, delivering speeds of up to 80Mbps, available to more than 52,500 homes and businesses in the two counties – 38,500 in Buckinghamshire and 14,000 in Hertfordshire – in the next three years.

It builds on BT’s commercial roll-out which has so far made the technology available to more than 153,000 homes and businesses in Buckinghamshire County Council area and more than 400,000 in Hertfordshire.

Additionally, the project aims to ensure that everyone in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire has access to a minimum of 2Mbps broadband speeds – fast enough to watch BBC iPlayer.

Buckinghamshire County Council Leader Martin Tett welcomed the deal:

This is a fantastic step forward in our commitment to make the county a great place to do business and to live”, he said. “Superfast broadband has the potential to transform our economy and our lives as dramatically as the railways did for the Victorians.

Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director, Next Generation Access, added:

This is fantastic news and this project will move Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire well and truly into the broadband fast lane. We’re already seeing the positive impact that faster, fibre broadband is having and now, thanks to this partnership, this investment will further boost the position of the two counties as being among the leading creators of new businesses.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said:

This Government is committed to transforming the nation’s Broadband, and today’s announcement is tremendous news for the people of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. This project will deliver a huge boost to the local economy, and more than 52,500 homes and businesses across these ‘Connected Counties’ will be able to enjoy all the benefits that superfast broadband has to offer.

Improving broadband speeds has long been an ambition of both county councils. More than 11,700 residents and businesses in the two counties registered their interest in receiving superfast broadband following a successful campaign. BT was chosen by the Councils following an extensive and thorough procurement process. The company is contributing £8.6 million to the project while Hertfordshire County Council and Buckinghamshire County Council are contributing £1.61 million and £3.7 million respectively, including funding from the two Local Enterprise Partnerships. A further £4.15million is coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.

Buckinghamshire County Council will be working with BT to identify which areas will be upgraded to fibre broadband through this programme. There will be a phased approach to the roll-out of fibre broadband, with the first areas predicted to be upgraded in mid-2014.

You can learn more about the project from Superfast for Bucks here.

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