£500k to be spent on developing superfast broadband in Middlesbrough

 

Plans to spend almost £500,000 on further developing superfast broadband in Middlesbrough have been approved.

A national roll-out of the first phase of the high-speed internet project was launched three years ago.

JS40668996

It aimed at delivering the service to least 90% of homes and businesses by 2015. 

Superfast broadband has download speeds of more than 20 mega bits per second (mbps) - compared with eight mbps for standard services.

Work is due to start in Middlesbrough at the end of this year on phase one, with about 93% of homes and businesses set to benefit.

A decision on developing phase two of the project, which runs up to 2017, was taken by Middlesbrough Council this week.

Deputy mayor Dave Budd backed a proposal to spend £197,000 of council cash on the second phase, which will deliver the service to at least 500 businesses in the town.

The money will be matched by the Government while a further £99,000 will be put in by telecoms giant BT - taking total investment to £493,000.

A report prepared by council officer John Polson set out the advantages to the town of the project.

“The economic benefits of fast, reliable broadband internet access are well documented," he said.

“The quality of telecommunications and technology infrastructure is considered one of the most critical factors driving inward investment decisions.

“This is particularly important for digital and creative industries, which Middlesbrough has been successful in growing.

“However it is increasingly important across all business sectors.”

The national target for phase two is to bring superfast broadband to 95% of premises by 2017.

The authority has been granted £590,000 but Mr Polson’s report recommended against taking the up the full allocation, which would then have to be matched by the council.

He said there were concerns over value for money for the taxpayer and a possible lack of control over how the money is spent.

He added: “It is suggested that one third of the available grant is used and matched by the council, with a requirement that at least 500 business premises gain access to superfast broadband and that the council is able to prioritise the areas that benefit from the investment.

“This would increase the proportion of business property with access to superfast broadband to around 75%.”

Cllr Budd also backed a recommendation to ask BT to provide proposals on what would be done if the council were to take up its remaining allocation.