European broadband cash secured for Notts

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Plans to roll out superfast broadband speeds to boost businesses could go further and faster after Notts County Council secured an additional £2.7m in European funding for the Notts Broadband Plan.

The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money will directly benefit business premises which currently have little or no broadband access. It swells the overall public sector investment in superfast broadband in Notts to £10.5m.

The additional funding is likely to mean the Notts Broadband Plan will now exceed the Government’s national target for 90 per cent of premises to have access to superfast broadband speeds by the end of 2015.

Under the terms of the funding, areas with the highest concentration of businesses will be prioritised when anticipated work on the ground begins later this year.

Targeting businesses first will help boost the economy and create jobs, while residential properties in those areas will also be able to benefit from the improved infrastructure.

The county council is currently part way through the procurement phase, which means that it will soon be selecting a partner to help it deliver superfast broadband across the area, with two telecoms companies competing to be the chosen provider.

The procurement process will now be extended for a further eight weeks so that the terms of the ERDF funding can be incorporated into the Invitation to Tender. Potential suppliers have until the end of July to respond with their proposals.

To complement the impending roll out of superfast broadband, the County Council has been working to raise awareness of the business opportunities improved broadband can bring through a series of workshops, covering subjects such as mobile marketing and using social media to gain more business. Further information about the workshops is available at www.superfastnotts.co.uk

Coun Diana Meale, chair of the economic development committee at Notts County Council, said: “Being a better connected county is critical to our plans for economic growth and the creation of new jobs for Nottinghamshire residents.”

“The new European funding means our broadband roll out to businesses can go further and faster in Nottinghamshire than in many other places, improving our potential for growth.”

She added: “We know that access to good broadband is key both to existing businesses wanting to develop and to attracting new companies to the county.”

“What’s more, by connecting our county’s businesses, we are also providing the infrastructure for even more residents to benefit from faster broadband at home.”

Further information on the Notts Broadband plan, including the timetable for its implementation, is available at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/broadband

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