Eight councils across Greater Manchester today signed a contract with BT to bring fibre broadband to homes and businesses across the county.
The £15m deal is part of the government’s BDUK project and will see 39,000 premises added to the telecoms giant’s network by the end of March 2016.
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Councils in Stockport, Bolton, Wigan, Bury, Tameside, Oldham, Trafford and Rochdale will invest £2.5m with the promise of superfast broadband being brought to its town centres and main business districts. BT will invest £4.6m in the roll-out, with £3m coming from central government and the remaining £5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
A study undertaken by Regeneris in September claimed the roll-out could boost the local economy by up to £80m, as well as create around 500 new jobs.
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“Access to fast and reliable broadband is becoming increasingly important for homes and businesses,” said Eamonn Boylan, chief executive of Stockport Council – the lead local authority on the project. “These proposals would ensure local businesses can make the most of digital technology - boosting the local economy, generating growth, creating jobs and attracting further investment.”
BT is already implementing its own commercial roll-out of fibre in the area, promising to reach almost one million premises in Greater Manchester by the end of Spring 2014.
Sir Howard Bernstein, vice chair of the North West ERDF local management committee and chief executive of Manchester City Council, added: "This programme will help local businesses make the most of superfast broadband, improving performance and helping to create and safeguard jobs.”
“It will provide a major boost to the economy across Greater Manchester and we are pleased that ERDF have been able to support it financially."
The contract signing is the penultimate of the 44 areas defined by BDUK, with just the Isle of Wight left to sign. All 43 contracts so far have gone to BT.