A £16.9 million high-speed broadband deal which will boost Harborough’s economy has been signed by Leicestershire County Council and BT.
The deal is set to give 95 per cent of homes and businesses across the county - including rural parts of Harborough district - access to faster internet speeds within three years.
The contract was signed today at Foxton Locks, which is one of the rural areas set to benefit.
Faster speeds will make it easier to use features such as high quality video-conferencing, cloud computing services and video.
Blake Pain, the county council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “We predict that faster broadband will create a £92 million boost to Leicestershire’s economy over the next seven years, by making firms more competitive and attracting inward investment and jobs.
“Rural communities and businesses can play a major role in the county’s future, once they have the high speed connections they need to compete nationally and internationally.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “This is terrific news for the people of Leicestershire. Fibre broadband will bring the rest of the digital world right to the doorsteps of thousands more homes and businesses across the county.
“Faster broadband will help to unlock rural Leicestershire’s economic potential. The Leicestershire economy, especially in rural areas predominantly consists of small and micro businesses. A large number are self-employed, work from home and are in the creative, knowledge based sectors which need high speed broadband and will provide the driving force for the county’s digital economy.”
The Government has welcomed the deal.
Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “Thousands more of Leicestershire’s homes and businesses will be able to access high speed broadband as a result of this project which will see a remarkable transformation of broadband throughout the county.
“The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to high speeds will provide a welcome boost to the local economy.”
The county council is investing £4.1 million as part of the deal, with £3.3 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds and £1.23 million from the European Union. BT is contributing a further £8.3 million.