A MASSIVE investment in speeding up internet connections could make as much difference to firms as money spent on roads, business leaders say.
Councils in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are to spend up to £50 million jointly with BT in providing high-speed broadband for homes and businesses over the next three years.
The investment comes in the wake of hundreds of millions being spent on improving road, rail and tram services across Notts.
And the chair of the local enterprise partnership for both counties says the broadband announcement should be seen in exactly the same light.
“Without question, broadband is held in the same infrastructure bracket as roads and railways when it comes to a vital need for business,” said Peter Richardson, who chairs D2N2.
“We have heard many examples, from guest houses in rural areas to farmers, highlighting the need for access to broadband. The importance of this cannot be under-estimated.”
Notts County Council revealed more than £20 million was going to be invested in providing high-speed broadband for 95 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses by March 2016.
The council is putting £2.5 million into the project, the European Union £2.7 million, the UK government £4.5 million and Nottinghamshire’s borough and district councils £800,000 between them.
The rest of the money is coming from BT, which is spending £9.3m on the project.
The investment will see the installation of thousands of kilometres of fibre-optic cable which is capable of transmitting data at speeds of up to 80 megabits a second – far faster than current speeds.
Work is expected to start next Spring.