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UK Hampshire County Council Launch Superfast Broadband Campaign

Posted: 11th Mar, 2011 By: MarkJ
hampshire uk mapThe Hampshire County Council (HCC) has launched a new campaign ('Superfast Broadband - Getting Hampshire Connected'), which aims to improve broadband access in the many parts of rural Hampshire that suffer from very poor (sub-2Mbps) connectivity or no access at all (approximately 112,000 people and 3,400 businesses).

The effort encourages locals to sign-up and support the councils bid for government cash, although Unison and anti-council tax campaigners are opposed; they claim that superfast broadband should not be given such a high priority.

Certainly Hampshire already has a reasonable number of locations on BT's 40Mbps FTTC rollout (e.g. SOUTHAMPTON, TADLEY, WOOLSTON, BISHOPS WALTHAM, FAWLEY and many more). The council also estimates that 80% of local telephone landlines will receive "enhanced broadband services" by 2015 through private sector investment.

HCC Leader, Ken Thornber, said:

"Broadband, allows people to work and run businesses from home and increases access to education, employment and leisure. Information and services from public and private sectors alike will increasingly be delivered using digital channels and county-wide superfast broadband coverage will enable everyone in Hampshire to benefit regardless of location.

We want to see an end to this 'digital divide' whereby an urban housing estate gets superfast broadband but a rural village just half a mile away gets little or no internet access. We need to prove that families, businesses and communities in rural areas want faster broadband and are willing to pay a one-off connection charge and the monthly charge.

We expect to see a mix of technologies, including wireless, to deliver superfast broadband to villages and 'not-spots' in Hampshire, with a wide choice of local internet service providers"

Money for the effort, which will also make use of existing publicly funded networks (such as those already being used by local schools and libraries), is expected to come from both the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office (£530m budget until 2015) and the Local Authority Business Growth Incentives (LABGI) scheme.

However the effort has already been hit by controversy after it emerged that the council had paid out a six-figure sum to appoint its new "broadband tsar", whom remains unnamed. It's unclear precisely how much the individual is being paid or how the figure might compare with other local authorities.

Meanwhile any locals who want to support the effort can register their interest on the council's website, or call 01962 846381, or write to Economic Development Office, Elizabeth 11 Court South, Winchester, SO23 8UJ.
Superfast broadband - getting Hampshire connected
http://www3.hants.gov.uk/broadband
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