BT Openreach is already upgrading its existing network across Milton Keynes as part of a nationwide commercial roll-out.
This will deliver superfast broadband infrastructure to the majority of homes and businesses. More than 75% currently have access to superfast broadband in Milton Keynes, the highest level in the UK outside central London.
However, this commercial rollout will not reach every property in the borough including some in rural areas.
Milton Keynes Council’s goal is for 95% of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband (24Mbps or above) by late 2016 and 100% to access a speed of at least 2Mbps. It is investing an additional £2.4 million of its own money to make this happen.
Central Bedfordshire Council, Bedford Borough Council and Milton Keynes Council formed a partnership in 2011 which successfully bid for a share of the £530 million government fund into ‘non commercial’ broadband improvement.
The three councils have chosen BT Openreach to work on the next phase of the joint broadband infrastructure programme following an extensive procurement process.
BT Openreach will make its £2.66m investment in addition to the funding from government and each local authority. Its engineers will begin to assess the areas which receive improved broadband early next year.
Cllr David Hopkins, Milton Keynes Council cabinet member responsible for economic development, is pictured with BT managing director, next generation access, Bill Murphy.
Cllr Hopkins said: “This contract signing is another vital step towards achieving our ambitious goal for local broadband coverage.
“Good broadband helps economic growth, and businesses and residents have told us that building a better and faster broadband service should be a priority. By signing this new contract, we are well on the way to making superfast broadband a reality for many more.”
Bedford Mayor Dave Hodgson added: “As the internet becomes ever more central for businesses and for everyday life for households, decent broadband availability is more and more important.
"That is why we are so pleased to have secured significant funds to boost broadband availability in areas which otherwise would not be receiving it.”
Cllr Richard Wenham, Central Bedfordshire’s deputy executive member for corporate resources said: " We are committed to improving infrastructure In Central Bedfordshire and superfast broadband is part of that.
“Rolling it out will have huge benefits – it will mean improved access to services for our residents and strengthen the local economy by opening up new markets and helping local business to grow and innovate."
Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. It can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps.
Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand throughout the fibre footprint should local businesses wish to invest in the ultra-fast speeds it offers.
Bill Murphy, BT managing director, next generation access, said: “This is great news for the people living in these areas. It is important to support local economies, as well as helping new development and infrastructure in these communities.
“This is where fibre broadband can play an essential role by revitalising towns, villages and hamlets, helping businesses to be connected in these locations.”
Communications Minister Ed Vaizery added: “This project is fantastic news for the thousands of homes and businesses across Milton Keynes and Bedfordshire and will be instrumental in driving growth and boosting the local economy.”