HOUSEHOLDERS and businesses in Ripley, Heanor and the surrounding villages are set to benefit from improved internet connections thanks to a multi-million pound government pledge.
A total of £7.3 million has been made available to improve broadband access across Derbyshire — with 468,971 premises in line to benefit.
Derbyshire County Council leaders have welcomed the announcement, which is part of a £530 million package to ensure 90% of homes and businesses nationwide have access to superfast broadband by 2015.
Four out of ten households in Derbyshire do not currently have access to broadband with a speed of 2Mbps – the government’s target broadband speed.
Kevin Parkinson, county council Cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “Bringing fast and reliable broadband to Derbyshire is one of our top priorities. We recognise the important role broadband plays in people’s everyday lives and the opportunities it brings for businesses to thrive.
“Vast areas of Derbyshire are among the country’s most rural and this is where broadband speeds tend to be at their slowest.
“I urge everyone across Derbyshire to take part in our broadband survey because the number of responses for each area will speed up our investment decisions.”
Access the survey at www.derbyshire.gov.uk/broadbandsurvey.
Alternatively, ring the county council’s contact centre on 08456 058 058 or 01629 533190 and fill the survey in over the phone.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Rural communities should never be overlooked when it comes to services that most of us take for granted. Decent internet access is vital.”
This week a spokesperson from BT commented: “BT is investing more than any other company to roll out super-fast broadband and we are keen to reach even more areas by working with the public sector.
“Open and equal access is essential if competition is to flourish and end users are to benefit from low prices. Local monopolies would benefit no-one.
“There needs to be a collective effort if super-fast broadband is to reach at least 90 per cent of the UK. BT is willing and able to play its part but local government and community groups will also need to get involved if rural areas are to benefit.”