Multi-million pound scheme to connect Black Country to high-speed internet

At least 95 per cent of the Black Country will be connected to high-speed broadband within three years thanks to a £7.5 million investment boost.

The money provided under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme will see a major investment in Broadband infrastructure in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell areas.

Run by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the scheme aims to give 95 per cent of homes and businesses a chance to access superfast broadband by 2017.

The initiative is part of the Government's established BDUK project which aims to deliver better broadband to rural areas, cities and other areas where there are no foreseeable plans for the market to provide superfast broadband.

As part of this the Department of Culture, Media and Sports which is behind the BDUK has agreed to fund £3m of works in the Black County and a further £3 m will come from the Black Country Chamber of Commerce's Growing Places fund. Another £1.5 m will be provided by the service supplier.

A procurement process to appoint a supplier to deliver the infrastructure is still underway and once it has been completed work will begin.

Ninder Johal, Black Country LEP Board Member and Chair of the Black Country Broadband Plan group, said: "Small businesses have identified slow broadband speeds as a barrier to growth. The Black Country Broadband Plan will work towards our ambition of 95 per cent superfast broadband availability by 2017."

The Black Country Broadband Plan is adopting an innovative approach focuses on business needs to boost business competitiveness

The legal and financial responsibility for setting up the new network of high-speed lines has been left in the hands of Sandwell Council which has been set the task of ensuring it is delivered in the Black Country.

Councillor Steve Eling, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for strategic resources, said: "We need to make sure that businesses in the Black Country get superfast Broad Band. We live in a rapidly changing world and this funding will help businesses to keep up with the rest of the country."

The scheme will also ensure that the other five per cent not able to access superfast broadband will at least have access to basic broadband.