THE first Worcestershire communities to benefit from a £20 million broadband project have been announced.

Ashton-under-Hill, Badsey, Broadway, Cropthorne, Hallow and Harvington will be among the first to receive the superfast internet connection as part of a joint Worcestershire County Council and BT programme.

It will also cover parts of Worcester like St John's and St Peter's.

Called Superfast Worcestershire, the project will eventually extend to parts of Worcester city centre not previously covered by any commercial programme.

The partnership aims to ensure that high speed broadband is made available to more than 90 per cent of Worcestershire businesses and homes over the next three years.

The first phase of the work will be completed by September this year.

In total, nearly 55,000 businesses and homes are set to benefit from the programme.

“The fact that access to high-speed fibre will be available to over 90 per cent of residents and businesses over the coming years is great news for Worcestershire," said Councillor Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure.

“Superfast broadband is vital for the future success and competitiveness of our businesses and will boost our residents' experience online - helping them to do more and more via the internet.

"For local businesses, the fibre network will help underpin the introduction of many new services and applications and will increase their opportunities for economic growth, a vital component to keep the county open for business.

“We believe Superfast Worcestershire is the only programme of its kind in the UK to put an emphasis on reaching at least 90 per cent of the county's business premises."

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "I am very pleased about this, I have had complaints from people about slow speeds in parts of Worcester in the past and this should make a difference."

Worcestershire County Council has put £8.5 million into Superfast Worcestershire, while BT added £8.9 million.

County residents will be able to order an upgrade for their broadband connection from a wide range of internet service providers

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