West Yorkshire councils have signed a £21.9 million rural fibre broadband contract with BT in a government-subsidised deal.
The “Superfast West Yorkshire” project plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 percent of households and businesses across the majority of West Yorkshire.
For BT, Superfast West Yorkshire builds on its commercial investment of £2.5 billion to roll fibre broadband out to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of Spring 2014.
Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Wakefield Council and Calderdale Council will work with BT to bring fibre broadband to premises in West Yorkshire which are not currently included in commercial roll-out plans, and could otherwise have missed out.
BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. BT is contributing £12.58 million towards the project, with the four local authorities contributing a total of £970,000. On top of this £4.62 million of funding has come from BDUK and the remaining £3.79 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Councillor Keith Wakefield, chair of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities (AWYA), said: “Fast and reliable internet is becoming crucial to daily life and for residents in West Yorkshire. It will provide an equal opportunity to access essential online activities such as council services, healthcare and other public services, as well as offering new leisure and educational opportunities."
The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee recently slammed the government's national rural broadband programme, claiming BT was not being clear enough about the charges it was levying councils to deliver it.