A PROPOSAL is being put forward which could soon see most of Swindon finally having access to superfast broadband.
Swindon Council is looking at securing a grant of £1.5m, which it will match, as a way of securing rapid internet connectivity of higher than 30Mbps for 95 per cent of households.
Cabinet will look at authorising an application to the Government agency Broadband Delivery UK for the money. If this is approved then the council will seek a delivery partner that specialises in providing coverage to set up the scheme.
Superfast broadband is seen as key for moving Swindon forward economically, as it would give not only residents but also businesses much quicker access to the internet.
Although parts of Swindon already have good coverage, other areas such as the north of the town and the more rural areas of the borough do not.
Talks have taken place with BT but they have no plans to roll out coverage in these areas so the council believes this is the best way forward.
The move has been welcomed in North Swindon, where residents have been running a campaign to try to persuade BT to bring superfast broadband to the area.
Peter Goodfellow, 32, of Redhouse said: “I certainly welcome this move because superfast broadband is certainly something we need in north Swindon.
“There are a lot of young enterprises in this area so it is absolutely vital that we get this upgrade.
“It is just not possible to operate effectively as a business in 2014 without such a fast connection.
“It is the backbone of the country and we need this petition to send a strong message that we need it.
“One of the issues is we believe BT have been making the decision using incorrect data from the wrong exchanges.
“If they are not going to move forward, then it is very good this is being considered.”
BDUK will match the funding put forward by any local authority up to a maximum of £1.5m, which is what the council has asked for.
The total cost to the council is expected to be in the region of £1.8m.
In 2012 £250,000 was set aside as part of a scheme with BDUK, which would have included the whole of Wiltshire. However, because of the costs it was decided not to progress so most of the £250,000 remains in the pot.
If cabinet approves the scheme, an offer to tender a delivery partner will be put out who will also contribute financially.