West Midlands councils sign £8.9m rural broadband deal

An £8.9 million rural broadband contract has been signed by public authorities to make sure homes and businesses can get faster fibre-based services across the West Midlands.

CSW Broadband, a partnership of eight local authorities led by Warwickshire County Council, has signed the deal with BT to deliver fibre broadband to around 91 per cent of premises by spring 2016. The deal covers locations across the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire areas.

BT has won all the other previous rural broadband contractsaround the UK, which are enabled by government cash.

As a result of the latest deal around a further 40,000 premises should have access to broadband speeds of 24mbps and above by the end of the project.

According to Ofcom, Warwickshire’s average broadband download speed is currently around 12mbps, while around 13 percent of the population gets less than 2mbps.

CSW Broadband is contributing £4.45 million to the scheme, of which £3 million is from Warwickshire County Council, with the balance coming from other local authorities. A further £4.45 million is coming from government funds.

The first premises are expected to be connected to fibre-based networks in "early 2014".

Warwickshire County Council deputy leader Alan Cockburn said: “This is a major landmark in securing the future competitiveness of our area. Our rural businesses need broadband to be able to compete in today’s increasingly global environment."

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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