Superfast broadband funding secured for the Black Country

A £6 million funding boost has been secured for a project aimed at connecting 95 per cent of the Black Country to high speed broadband by 2017.

Superfast broadband funding secured for the Black Country

The money will see a major investment in infrastructure in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Sandwell and Dudley.

The money has been secured thanks to the four Black Country councils working in partnership with the Black Country Consortium to find £3 million of funding, which will be matched by the Government-backed Broadband Delivery UK.

A further £1.5 million is set to be raised by service providers to complete the project.

Dudley MP Ian Austin has been campaigning to get the Government to back the plans for high speed broadband in the area.

He has recently received a letter from Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey to confirm the funding had been secured. He said: "Constituents got in touch with me after being told by broadband companies that there were no plans for Dudley to get superfast broadband.

"Places like London have been the first to benefit and I don't see why Dudley should be left behind, so I'm really pleased 95 per cent of people in the Black Country will now be covered.

"I'm pleased the Black Country Consortium and local councils have made this progress, but now I want the Government to guarantee that Dudley will get covered as soon as possible."

Councillor Judy Foster, Dudley Council cabinet member for economic regeneration, added: "In Dudley we are absolutely committed to ensuring businesses in our borough have the platform to prosper and thrive.

"Currently only 60 per cent of businesses in the Black Country have access to super-fast broadband but this agreement by the four Black Country councils and the LEP, will help meet the target of super-fast broadband being available to 95 per cent of people in the area."

The announcement has also been welcomed by regeneration chiefs from around the Black Country.

Councillor Ian Jones, cabinet member for regeneration at Sandwell Council, said: "We have joined with our neighbouring councils to secure this funding to bring superfast broadband to the Black Country. It will be a huge boost to small to medium-sized businesses across the borough."

Councillor Ian Jones

Councillor Peter Bilson, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for economic regeneration, said: "This is excellent news for the Black Country.

"From Wolverhampton's point of view, the city is already one of the UK's best-connected places in terms of its road and rail links.

"Widespread availability of superfast broadband will give local businesses the chance to compete and collaborate on a truly global scale."

Providers are now drawing up plans to deliver the scheme and will announce the areas that will benefit in the next six months.

The initiative is part of the Government's established BDUK project to deliver better broadband to areas where there are no plans for the market to provide superfast broadband.

Homes in Staffordshire are also being connected to broadband. It emerged last week that 5,350 residents in the village of Colton and Rugeley now have access to faster fibre broadband as a result of the multi-million pound Superfast Staffordshire programme.

Engineers from Openreach – BT's local network business – had to work across a deep water stream in order to lay the 13 kilometres of fibre optic cable needed to connect more than 250 homes and businesses onto the new network.

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