Cheshire East Council will receive a share of £7.25m of funding to extend the roll-out of faster broadband in the borough.
The investment – to be implemented over the next three years - is the fourth phase of the ‘Connecting Cheshire’ project and will target rural areas in Cheshire and Warrington, where broadband speeds remain low and where it has not been commercially viable to invest previously.
Called ‘Digital 2020’, the project will focus on reaching premises in rural broadband black spots, a digital business support package to enable small businesses to exploit digital technologies such as e-commerce, cloud computing and a broadband connection voucher scheme for businesses.
Funding will come mainly from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and government sources, as well as from Connecting Cheshire and businesses.
To date, the Connecting Cheshire project has reached more than 97,000 premises with faster speeds and has switched-on more than 600 new roadside fibre broadband cabinets. The project has also been successful in driving take-up of the faster speeds by homes and businesses and will soon reach 50 per cent, one of the highest in the country.
The Digital 2020 project is a partnership of Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester and Warrington Borough Councils, and is managed by Cheshire East Council's arms-length Skills and Growth Company.
Councillor David Brown, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: “I am delighted this additional funding has been secured and that the Connecting Cheshire project is going from strength to strength.
“Faster broadband has been proven to drive economic growth and help businesses create jobs.
“The Digital 2020 programme has been designed to ensure we can help as many communities and businesses as possible benefit from faster speeds.”
The process of selecting an infrastructure partner for Digital 2020 is already underway and the scope of coverage will be confirmed once the procurement process is completed. It is hoped that the programme will start its roll-out in early 2018.
The Connecting Cheshire project was launched in April 2013, for more information visit: www.connectingcheshire.org.uk