Internet speed boost for Gloucestershire and Wiltshire

Fibre optic will reach more than 94% of premises as councils work with BT to make superfast broadband available to rural communities.

Internet speeds are set to increase in rural parts of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

South Gloucestershire Council, in partnership with Wiltshire Council, has agreed a £35million deal with BT, which should bring superfast broadband to at least 94% of homes and businesses in both regions by the end of March 2016.

While the vast majority will receive internet speeds of up to 24Mb, the remaining 6% of premises have been promised a lesser increase to a minimum 2Mb speed.

Councillor John Goddard, chair of South Gloucestershire Council's resources subcommittee, said: "We are delighted to have signed the contract with BT and our partners at Wiltshire Council to bring superfast broadband to thousands of homes and businesses."

The project will benefit over 104,000 households and commercial premises.

"Benefits will include faster file storage, computer back-up and processing, for example, while the new technology will transform the way our residents use the internet at home, from speeding up the simple sharing of photos and videos to enjoying watching films and TV online."

Bill Murphy, managing director of next-generation broadband at BT, said Wiltshire would soon become one the UK's most widely fibre-enabled counties.

He added: "High-speed broadband is critical to attracting new businesses to the area and providing individuals with access to the myriad of new applications and services that are becoming available.

"This project will catapult Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire into the broadband fast lane, providing a choice of service providers, and a sustained and long-term broadband solution for businesses and individuals in rural as well as urban areas."

Openreach, BT's local network division, will install the fibre optic technology, making it available to all superfast providers on an equal basis. The first exchanges being upgraded as part of the deal are expected to go live with fibre in spring 2014.

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