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By: MarkJ - 10 June, 2011 (7:50 AM)
herefordshire councilgloucestershire councilThe Borders Broadband project, a partnership between Herefordshire and Gloucestershire County Councils that aims to deliver the "best, most reliable and affordable Superfast Broadband" coverage in rural England (UK), has finally been put out to tender after eight long months of waiting.

The area, which includes large parts of south Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, was one of just four pilots in the UK to receive funding from the governments Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office in October 2010. Currently 42% of premises within the pilot's area cannot get a reliable 2Mbps connection.

The project itself, which BDUK originally hoped to see extended "a small way into Wales" (there's no word on that happening), is expected to cost up to £50 Million (made up of public and private funds). However, like most of the other pilots, it's been slow to start.

Herefordshire Councillor, Graham Powell, said:

"A tremendous amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to prepare this contract, culminating in this exciting stage where we can begin the search for the right broadband solution for Herefordshire in earnest.

With telecomms technology changing all the time, we will be looking for a contractor who will offer the fastest, most effective, and most sustainable ways for local communities and businesses to access the internet for years to come.

Herefordshire aims to offer fast broadband that creates a competitive advantage for business, communities and individuals, with households being able to access a range of online services at their convenience."

The pilot itself has been split up into two phases ('Phase 1' for the county border areas and 'Phase 2' for everywhere else). Premises within the Phase 1 area can expect 100% access to 2Mbps speeds by 2013, with superfast broadband arriving by 2015. By contrast Phase 2 will deliver 2Mbps to 100% by 2015 and superfast broadband by 2018.

The government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) office, which has a budget of £530m (rising to £830m by 2017), seeks to help 90% of "people in each local authority area" gain access to a superfast broadband (25Mbps+) service by 2015. It also wants everybody in the country, within the same timeframe, to have access to a minimum broadband speed of at least 2Mbps.
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