Rutland County Council wins Government grant to improve broadband speeds

BROADBAND speeds in Rutland are set to increase thanks to a slice of a multi-million pound Government grant.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a £362m scheme to turn the UK’s “not-spots” into “hot-spots” on Tuesday.

Rutland will receive £705,000 towards improving its broadband infrastructure.

Rutland County Council is surveying businesses and residents to find where the biggest need is and will make more detailed plans once the results are in.

The Government wants 90 per cent of homes in the UK to have superfast broadband by 2015. The speed is measured in megabits per second (MB). The nearer your connection is to an exchange, the faster your speed.

A superfast connection is considered to be at least 24MB by media watchdog Ofcom, although the Government has not specified a figure.

According to Ofcom, broadband speeds in Rutland are among the slowest in the UK. The county has an average connection speed of 5.8MB and 22.1 per cent of residents do not get speeds of more than 2MB. Rural areas often see speeds drop below 0.25MB.

Rutland County Council’s deputy leader Terry King (Con), said: “This is fantastic news for the county and the project. The announcement of this funding is a huge boost.

“We have been delighted with the community response to our survey so far – it clearly shows people in Rutland feel strongly abut getting faster broadband.”

Councils previously had to apply for grant money during rounds of funding, but the Government has now decided to allocate all of the grant at once.

Rutland County Council had applied for £2m in the first round, but was turned down last month.

It says that £2m is still needed in total, but aims to secure public and private sector investment.

Coun King urged people to visit and complete the survey to help the council decide where the grant money should be spent.

Rutland MP Alan Duncan (Con) said: “I’ve been lobbying the Department for Culture, Media and Sport very hard for the last few months and the Minister, Ed Vaizey, has been very understanding.

“I am delighted Rutland will now have proper funding to address its acute broadband blackspot.”