BT offers Leicestershire superfast broadband boost

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

Leicestershire County Council has struck a 16.9 million deal with BT to aid the delivery of superfast broadband services to 95 per cent of the area's homes and businesses.

The contract was awarded through the Government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework, and will see the county council invest 4.1million in the project, while BT has agreed to stump up 8.3 million.

A further 1.23 million is being offered by the European Union and BDUK will contribute 3.3 million towards the deployment.

Preliminary work on the project is expect to start in the autumn, with the first locations to benefit from the project expected to be announced early next year.

Blake Pain, the Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for economic development, said the project is forecast to provide the county with a 92 million economic boost over the next seven years.

"[This will be achieved] by making firms more competitive and attracting inward investment and jobs," said Pain.

"Rural communities and businesses can play a major role in the county's future, once they have the high speed connections they need to compete nationally and internationally."

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access at BT, added: "Faster broadband will help to unlock rural Leicestershire's economic potential.

"A large number of people [living here] are self-employed, work from home and are in the creative, knowledge-based sectors which need high speed broadband and will provide the driving force for the county's digital economy."

BT is the last remaining bidder for deals through the controversial BDUK scheme, which was recently the subject of a scathing report by Government spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO).

In it, the organisation hit out at the scheme for reportedly being behind schedule, non-competitive and expensive.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.