£16 million scheme to improve internet speeds in Bucks reaches milestone next week

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Tenders for work to bring enhanced broadband to parts of Bucks with low speeds or no connection close at the end of next week and cable laying should start before the end of 2013.

The search to select a company to lay the cables started in February and the deadline for bidders to get their tenders in is on Friday April 19.

A contract is expected to be awarded by the end of May.

Suppliers were formally invited in February to submit tenders for work to reach around 62,000 homes and businesses in Buckinghamshire with broadband speeds of 30 megabits per second (Mbps) or more.

Bidders had to show how they would reach homes that currently have low speed or no broadband, demonstrate the technologies they would use, and say how they would phase delivery.

The contract will mark a major step forward for the partnership initiative between Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire County Councils, the Government and the private sector to feed high speed broadband to more than 118,000 homes and businesses in the two counties.

The initiative, with anticipated funding of around £16 million, should start laying cables before the end of the year.

Neil Gibson, Buckinghamshire County Council’s strategic director for communities and built environment, said: ‘High speed broadband is one of the greatest drivers of economic growth and creation of jobs. In Buckinghamshire we have one of the highest rates of business starts in the country, and we must keep driving forward with our broadband plans to support our small firms and residents in rural areas.’

Current data suggests that 28% of the 220,234 premises in Buckinghamshire will not have a high speed broadband connection by 2015, based on supplier rollout programmes.

Of these, 60% are in Aylesbury Vale district, 22% in Wycombe district, and 9% in each of South Bucks and Chiltern districts.

Funding for the scheme comes from Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire County Councils (£3.11m), Local Enterprise Partnerships in both counties (£2.2m), and the government (£4.15m).

The bidding process means the successful supplier will be expected to contribute upwards of a third of the scheme’s finance.

Technologies available include fibre cable, enhanced copper cable, and wireless.