A plan to help secure the roll out of superfast broadband infrastructure to all parts of the county by 2017 has been launched by Northamptonshire County Council.
The authority is now asking for views from the telecoms market on the approach set out in this initiative, known as the Next Generation Strategy.
Responses will help to shape the next steps towards making firm proposals before a competition is launched in 2014 to find the best solutions from the telecoms market.
Many local communities and businesses have already completed a questionnaire survey to register the level of demand for superfast broadband services.
Those which have not yet taken part are being encouraged to get involved, as this will be important to help promote Northamptonshire as a place for the telecoms market to invest.
The county council has already teamed up with BT to extend roll out to about 90 per cent of the county by 2015. However, this strategy sets out an approach to support the council’s full coverage target.
Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for strategic infrastructure, economic growth and public protection, said: “I firmly believe that access to superfast broadband is essential to future growth because of its capacity to transform business enterprise and trade, and its increasing importance for access to learning, delivering public services, and how we live our lives.
“Although we have aspirations for the deployment of fibre-based broadband infrastructure we’re very open minded about what sort of solutions will be used.
“This sector of the economy is developing extremely rapidly so we can’t be too prescriptive – we just need to ensure the solutions are ‘future proof’.
“Our approach is about working with the market to address the barriers which make a commercial roll out unviable and incentivising investment in Northamptonshire.”
The Next Generation Strategy could be the first of its kind in the country and supports Northamptonshire’s vision to be at the leading edge of the digital economy.
Providing connectivity for local business is a key priority to support economic growth and to attract new investment.
The strategy promotes a ‘fibre first’ approach to the roll out of superfast broadband networks which should be capable of supporting access line speeds of at least 30Mbps.
However, a mix of technology solutions will be considered where fibre does not provide value for money.
Alternative solutions will need to support the right quality of broadband services for local people and should enrich broadband connectivity in Northamptonshire.
The final deployment area includes parts of the town centres of Northampton, Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough, parts of the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone, a number of business parks/industrial estates, and the remaining rural and more remote areas in the county.
All together this comprises more than 34,000 premises.