Up to £200m to be invested in gigabit broadband network in Hampshire

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PLANS for a multi-million pound investment into the county's broadband speeds need further assurances to become viable, according to one business owner.

The government is set to give Hampshire County Council between £148m and £200m for Project Gigabit, which will see next-generation broadband connected to small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

It is hoped that this will aid those in the most rural areas of the county, particularly those considered 'hard to reach' by service providers.

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Broadband speeds are set to get a massive boost in Hampshire.Broadband speeds are set to get a massive boost in Hampshire.
Broadband speeds are set to get a massive boost in Hampshire.

Currently, more than 97 per cent of premises in Hampshire can access superfast broadband - defined as having download speeds of at least 30 megabits per second - but gigabit broadband claims to increase speeds up to 1,000 megabits per second.

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Cllr Keith Mans, said: 'I am delighted that Hampshire is at the vanguard of the government's Project Gigabit programme.

'We have made the case at a national level to ensure our residents are among the first to benefit from this funding to deliver digital infrastructure in ‘not-spot’ areas that have proved to be stubbornly unviable for commercial suppliers to reach.

'We estimate this investment for the region could deliver gigabit broadband to an additional 150,000 properties, enabling rural communities to get connected, whilst fuelling job creation and economic growth.'

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But business owners in rural parts of Hampshire say they will need to see more than just fast speeds to make the scheme viable.

Matt Clarke is the managing director of First Options Software in New Alresford.

He said: 'We already have a dedicated lease line for our broadband - obviously it costs but we have download speeds of around 100 megabits per second.

'Because we're an IT business we need to have the best technology available; this scheme will come down to whether they can provide a business-level service.

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'That means we can't have any broadband outages, and we will need a service level agreement (SLA) in place.'

Hampshire and the Isle of Wight will be joined by Norfolk, Shropshire, Suffolk and Worcestershire as the government aims to connect around 640,000 premises.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden said: 'We are setting out our plans to invest £5bn in remote and rural areas so that no one is left behind by the connectivity revolution.

'That means no more battling over the bandwidth, more freedom to live and work anywhere in the country, and tens of thousands of new jobs.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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