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Funding boost for rural connectivity

Some of the most rural parts of Derbyshire are waiting to find out if their application for help to speed broadband has been successful.

Derbyshire County Council has added £500,000 to 'top-up' the government's Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, which helps people in hard-to-reach locations get a fast, reliable broadband service.

The extra funding doubles the amount of financial support to which eligible households and businesses with broadband speeds of less than 100Mbps in rural parts of Derbyshire are entitled, to help pay for the cost of installing faster and more reliable connections to their premises.

It means those which applied before the February deadline could be in line to receive up to £3,000 per household and up to £7,000 per small to medium sized business, providing their premises are not already in a government-funded plan for a broadband upgrade.

Applications for the current government scheme have now closed but the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is expected to announce another scheme to replace it in the coming months.

The county council say this new investment is in addition to its existing Digital Derbyshire programme (pictured) - a multi-million pound partnership with the government and Openreach which has made better, faster broadband available to more than 102,000 premises across the county.

Councillor Simon Spencer, Derbyshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, said: “A number of Derbyshire communities have already benefitted from the voucher scheme and this 'Top-Up’ funding means more homes and businesses in the hardest to reach locations of Derbyshire can take advantage of the scheme.

“The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted just how important it is to have access to fast and reliable broadband. Whether it’s keeping in touch with loved ones or working from home the demand to be digitally connected has increased and this extra investment by the county council will further help to bridge the digital divide.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman said: “Derbyshire County Council is backing our mission to bring gigabit broadband to every corner of the country. I'm delighted that now even more financial help is available to help people in hard to reach areas of the county access these top-of-the-range speeds.

"We're helping rural areas join the digital superhighway so Derbyshire can unleash its full potential."

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