Northamptonshire County Council is to offer loans to rural firms who want to connect to superfast fibre broadband.
The authority will lend the money to organisations that can come up with a sound business plan to install fibre in rural parts of the county as part of a scheme to broaden fibre coverage by 2017.
The Superfast Northamptonshire Access to Finance initiative was developed in response to feedback from a county council survey, part of which asked industry what barriers to commercial investment they faced. Loans will be offered on commercial terms with strict criteria attached to them.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Rural BroadbandInterested organisations would need to demonstrate viable business plans and be financially stable, while the technology would need to be scalable, future-proofed, and provide some choice amongst commercial broadband suppliers from which people could buy broadband services, according to the council.
Currently, the BDUK contract in the county is aiming for superfast coverage of 90 per cent in 2015 with 2Mbps for the rest of the county. This scheme is aiming to increase that figure of 2Mbps for the remaining 10 per cent of the county.
Councillor Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for economic growth and strategic infrastructure, said: “An enormous amount of work is going on to develop superfast broadband infrastructure in the county, which is absolutely essential if we are going to be able to compete in the global digital economy.
“This particular initiative would secure a return on county council investment over a period of time and in doing so make public sector funding work in a smarter way. We asked industry what barriers they faced in delivering infrastructure and access to finance was one of the key factors.”
In March, Recombu reported that around 53,000 Northamptonshire homes and businesses will be connected to superfast broadband as a result of a local investment plan.
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