Grant will boost internet speeds in Stamford and Bourne areas

BROADBAND speeds are set to increase thanks to a multi-million pound government grant and improvement work by BT.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt pledged £362 million towards turning the UK’s “not-spots” into “hot-spots” on Tuesday.

Lincolnshire County Council will get £14.3 million towards improving broadband infrastructure across the county, although it has not been confirmed how much of that will go towards the Stamford and Bourne area.

The council is now looking at where the biggest demand for broadband in the county is, and aims to announce more detailed plans soon.

Rutland will receive £705,000 from the government to improve its broadband speeds.

President of the Stamford chamber of commerce Tim Lee said: “Hopefully the grant money will improve speeds around the area.

“Better speeds are good for business and a good connection can be critical.”

Bret Whitcombe, a senior helpdesk analyst for IT firm Tandem Solutions in Falcon Way, Bourne, launched a petition for superfast broadband in the town.

He said: “Rural broadband funding is good if the money is spent correctly. Quite where Bourne itself falls into this category I am not sure as I don’t know exactly what they class as rural.”

Alongside the government grant, BT will install new superfast exchanges in Stamford next year, which will bring faster download speeds customers.

The exchanges will use fibre optic cables, which are faster than ordinary copper cables.

New exchanges will also be installed in Market Deeping by January, although no work has been announced for Bourne.

The government wants 90 per cent of homes in the UK to have superfast broadband by 2015.

Broadband speed is measured in megabits per second (Mb). A superfast connection is considered to be at least 24 Mb by media watchdog Ofcom, although the government has not specified a figure.

Ofcom says Lincolnshire has an average speed of 6.5 Mb.

About 17 per cent of Lincolnshire residents do not get speeds of more than 2 Mb, and more rural areas often see speeds of just 0.25 Mb.

Executive member for economic development at Lincolnshire County Council, councillor Eddy Poll, said: “This grant will give greater internet speeds for a significant number of properties. We’ll then work on community-led solutions to improve things for the remaining homes and businesses.

“That way, we’ll ensure that Lincolnshire’s not left behind as we move into the digital age.”

Lincolnshire residents can encourage commercial suppliers to invest in broadband infrastructure by registering support at www.onlincolnshire.org