£22m broadband deal is approved

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South Yorkshire’s four councils have joined forces with BT in a £22m deal to extend fibre broadband to 98 per cent of homes and businesses in the city region.

The Superfast South Yorkshire project is forecast to generate an economic return of more than £270m, it is claimed.

It comes after the Digital Region fibre network set up by South Yorkshire’s four councils was a commercial flop which was switched off and sold off in August.

It cost the taxpayer more than £100m.

Coun Sir Stephen Houghton CBE, Leader of Barnsley Council, has worked with other city region leaders on the new project, which also has private sector investment.

He said: “We’ll increase fibre broadband coverage across South Yorkshire, taking it from the current 80 per cent to around 98 per cent by the end of 2017.

“Private sector investment from BT is helping to make this £22 million project happen. This is a major achievement for the city region, and a huge step forwards for South Yorkshire.

“We’ve committed to providing superfast broadband in the Strategic Economic Plan, as it’s fundamental to our vision for growth. This will keep us in the digital infrastructure fast lane, making us competitive when it comes to attracting inward investment.”

The project will be funded by BT, Broadband Delivery UK and the four local authorities of Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.

It will build upon BT’s commercial roll-out which is already making fibre broadband available more than 242,500 homes and businesses across South Yorkshire, as part of its plan to reach around two-thirds of UK premises.