Faster broadband on its way to the New Forest and Test Valley

Burley high street

Published Monday 2 June 2014

An additional 1,700 New Forest premises to receive Superfast Broadband.

Nearly 4,000 extra homes and businesses in the New Forest and Test Valley will be able to benefit from access to superfast broadband following a successful £1m bid to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

This is on top of the 59,000 premises already in the programme to receive access to faster broadband speeds in the current Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme.

Hampshire County Council and its partners including the New Forest National Park Authority secured the funding to extend the coverage to some of the county’s hardest-to-reach areas. Now more than 1,700 premises in the New Forest, and over 2,000 premises in Test Valley will be able to access superfast broadband. The work will take place between June and December next year.

Following the announcement, Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: 'This additional funding is excellent news for communities in the New Forest and Test Valley, and the extra £1m will take superfast broadband to over 3,700 additional properties that would otherwise have had to wait. The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a welcome boost to Hampshire‘s economy.'

Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry added: 'The County Council, together with our district and borough partners, has already invested £5m into the overall project, with a further £9.2m earmarked to help attract additional funding for the project. This grant is very welcome news as we push on with our determined effort to get maximum superfast broadband coverage. It means we can widen our programme even further, and provide greater numbers of residents with Superfast Broadband. Areas such as the New Forest and Test Valley have large areas which do not have access to decent broadband speeds so this is an extremely positive outcome.'

The investment will allow local communities that would otherwise miss out on the advantages of an improved internet connection, access to better broadband speeds.

Rural Affairs Minister, Dan Rogerson, said: 'Fast and reliable broadband coverage is crucial to building stronger rural economies and enabling farmers and all rural businesses to grow and thrive. This extra funding will allow rural businesses to benefit and will help close the rural and urban divide in broadband coverage.'

The news has been welcomed in the New Forest and Test Valley area:

Peter Heywood-Broomfield, Chair of the Community Broadband Group in the New Forest, commented on the positive impact of faster broadband speeds in his area: 'The successful bid will make a huge difference to those selected rural parishes, which are too small to be commercially attractive and in danger of being left in a communications desert. A good broadband service will have a significant impact on the ability to conduct business and is increasingly important in the delivery of social and public services.'

New Forest National Park Authority Chief Executive, Alison Barnes said: 'We have worked hard with Forest communities to really demonstrate to funding bodies that there is a high demand for superfast broadband services in the National Park and are delighted it has paid off. It is essential that the National Park has a thriving economy and broadband is vital in ensuring we can sustain the right kinds of business which work in harmony with this unique landscape.'

Councillor Barry Rickman, Leader of New Forest District Council, said: 'This is excellent news for the New Forest and I’m delighted that our work with partners and local communities has secured this much-needed investment into broadband access.'

Councillor Ian Carr, Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, said: 'I am delighted that an additional 2,000 properties in Test Valley will benefit from superfast broadband. Access to good quality internet will open up a host of opportunities for our residents and businesses in rural communities. This is great news for the borough.'

People can still sign up to the Hampshire campaign for faster broadband This will help demonstrate that there are plenty of potential customers who would make use of these services. High levels of demand and uptake help the programme funding go further - increasing the number of locations the County Council is able to reach.

-ends-

Media enquiries:

Alison Taylor, Communications Team Leader, Hampshire County Council
Communications Team
Tel: 01962 845155
Email: alison.taylor@hants.gov.uk  

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