Superfast broadband is to be extended to 95% of Lincolnshire after the county has been awarded £2.35 million in government funding to improve coverage.
As part of the £250 million Superfast Extension Programme announced on Tuesday by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, the £2.35 million sum is hoped to bring better broadband to the hardest-to-reach places in the county.
Lincolnshire County Council are to match the figure, after already setting aside £1.8 million for additional broadband improvements.
Over the coming months, the council will be inviting suppliers to bid for a contract to extend the county’s superfast coverage.
In March 2013, the County Council signed a £48 million contract with BT to provide broadband with speeds of up to 24Mbps and above to the county.
The new funding will build on commercial roll-out and the ongoing work for the Onlincolnshire programme.
In its first year, the Onlincolnshire project has already rolled out superfast broadband to 30 cabinets in parts of Spalding, Holbeach, Gosberton, Donington, Moulton and Lincoln.
In addition, the council has worked with Lincoln firm AB Internet to offer better speeds to approximately 12,000 homes in the coastal areas of East Lindsey and Boston and Fens through wireless technology.
Welcoming the new funding, Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Member for IT, said: “Since signing our agreement with BT a year ago, we’ve already managed to bring access to superfast broadband to more than 6,400 homes and that number will increase rapidly.
“Without our intervention, it’s unlikely they would have had the opportunity to sign up for services and enjoy everything superfast speeds bring.
“Now, thanks to this new funding, we’ll be able to help thousands more join the online revolution. We now need to look at how we use this money to reach the greatest number of people.”
Simon Beardsley, Chief Executive at the Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is very encouraging to hear that more money is being invested in Lincolnshire’s broadband projects.
“A lot of work is currently being done to deliver superfast broadband to around 90% of Lincolnshire – but another cash injection means that even more can be done.
“The additional funding is really positive for the county’s rural villages and towns; many of whom thought that they’d never get superfast broadband.
“The extra money means that by 2017, the hardest to reach areas will have the same connectivity as their neighbours in the city.
“Focusing government attention on this is crucial. Lincolnshire has a strong rural economy, with farm shops, cafes and B&Bs making-up a billion pound tourism and agriculture industry.
“In order to be competitive and prosper in the future, it is essential that rural businesses get superfast connectivity.”