Hampshire County Council, in partnership with BT, is set to deliver phase two of the Superfast Broadband Programme, to extend coverage of superfast services to an extra 8,000 homes and businesses.
From April to June, residents and businesses will be able to switch to superfast broadband in large parts of: Ashurst, Basingstoke, Cadnam, Downton, Fawley, Gosport, Hythe, Lee-On-Solent, Lockerley, Long Sutton, Lymington, Lyndhurst, Milford-On-Sea, Odiham, Overton, Romsey, Totton, and West Wellow.
Efficient partnership working with other local authorities has also meant that the programme team has managed to bring forward delivery of superfast services for the villages of Woodgreen and Braemore in the New Forest.
Phase one of the Superfast Broadband Programme has already seen the partnership deliver fibre broadband to over 5,050 homes and businesses across parts of Basingstoke, Gosport, Hart and the New Forest.
Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, said: "We are making very good progress with our work to make superfast broadband speeds available to 95 per cent of homes and businesses in Hampshire by 2017. Hampshire County Council together with district and borough partners has already invested £5million into the overall £13.8 million project and the County has earmarked further investment of up to £9.2m to lever further funding to reach the 95% target. This is bringing internet services to people in the county's rural communities who would otherwise be left with limited access or none at all, because the commercial market will not reach them. It is not a statutory responsibility of the County Council but we will do what we reasonably can to help Hampshire residents access superfast broadband.
"We recognise access to superfast broadband will play an increasingly important role in Hampshire's social and economic development, as well as in our strategy to tackle isolation and access to services in rural areas."
Peter Cowen, BT's regional partnership director, South East, said: "Access to fast broadband is an essential tool for local businesses and can be a catalyst for the creation of new jobs. High-speed technology is a must, not a luxury, for business in the modern age. It's also important for everyday life, as families use various devices to access the internet at the same time, whether for social networking, entertainment or education."
Hampshire's Superfast Broadband programme will help fill the gap in smaller, rural areas, which would otherwise be left out because the numbers of people who could potentially sign up are not commercially viable for providers and the engineering challenges involved.
Superfast broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it's downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in the few minutes it takes to make popcorn; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds.
The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home, as they would in the office.