England

BT to be Gloucestershire and Herefordshire 'broadband builder'

BT has been named as the preferred builder of a network which will offer high-speed internet to rural parts of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

Both county councils have agreed the choice as part of a £35.4m project to address poor broadband coverage.

The network would ultimately be used by internet service providers to sell fibre broadband packages to customers.

It is expected to be completed by the end of 2016 and "transform the lives of thousands of people and businesses".

The Borders Broadband is a partnership of the two county councils along with Gloucestershire First and the government's Broadband Delivery UK unit.

Half the cost, £18.17m, has been invested locally with the other half being matched by central government.

Councillor John Jarvis, leader of Herefordshire Council, said: "The new network will transform the lives of thousands of people and businesses in rural areas by being able to do more online.

"This partnership is part of a longer journey for everyone to have access to fast broadband to reflect the future requirements for digital services."

In Gloucestershire, county council leader Councillor Mark Hawthorne said it had always been an aim of the authority's to improve the broadband offering to rural areas.

BT will be awarded the contract after a legal standstill period of 10 days.

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