Digital Derbyshire set to transform county’s broadband after investment secured

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BROADBAND access in Derbyshire is poised for its biggest ever transformation after the Government approved ambitious £15 million plans led by Derbyshire County Council.

The county council is championing the ‘Digital Derbyshire’ programme to improve Derbyshire’s broadband infrastructure to allow better connection speeds.

And it is one of the first authorities in the country to be given the green light to press on with its £15m plans − backed by £7.39m from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme.

It means over 180,000 homes and businesses in classified ‘white areas’, where there is currently no broadband connection or speeds are slow, are expectd to benefit from improved infrastructure.

Homes and businesses currently in Derbyshire’s designated white areas are:

Amber Valley − 32,607

Bolsover − 23,036

Chesterfield − 15,061

Derby City − 4,599

Derbyshire Dales − 34,343

Erewash − 9,918

High Peak − 22,223

North East Derbyshire − 25,359

South Derbyshire − 16,027

Councillor Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Securing fast and reliable broadband for Derbyshire is one of our priorities and approval of our plans is great news.

“Increasingly broadband is at the heart of everything we do − both for work and pleasure − and this will mean a huge step forward for the county as a whole.

“Over 6,000 people helped fight our case by filling in our broadband survey and we’re really grateful to our volunteer Broadband Champions who are doing great work in their communities.”

Councillor Parkinson added: “This project supports our work to bring investment and jobs to the county. It will help existing businesses to grow and gives Derbyshire the right infrastructure to attract new businesses dependant on 21st century technologies.

“For our residents it will make everyday life easier. It could be working from home − providing families with savings against rising fuel costs and increasing productivity for employers − through to personal use such as home banking, keeping in touch with relatives overseas, or using the internet for entertainment.”

Digital Derbyshire’s focus will be to deliver broadband speeds over 24 mega bits per second (mbps) across 90 per cent of the county and two mbps to the remaining 10 per cent by 2015.

In February the county council paved the way for the successful BDUK bid by underwriting £7.39m in match funding, without which its bid would not have been successful. The authority is now working to gain funding from other sources.

The county council will now work with BDUK to secure an approved private sector partner to deliver the Digital Derbyshire project.

To view Digital Derbyshire’s Local Broadband Plan visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/broadband.