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Rural Services Network
RURAL communities across England are stepping up the drive for better broadband connections.
Thousands of rural residents have signed petitions in the hope that doing so will help unlock funding to bring super-fast broadband to the countryside.
In Cambridgeshire, the plan is for at least 90% of homes and businesses to have access to superfast broadband with speeds of at least 25Mbps by 2015.
The county council has been working closely with the government funding and advice body Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to meet the challenge.
A Connecting Cambridgeshire website will go live in early May as part of a countywide campaign encouraging residents to register demand for better broadband services.
Meanwhile, in East Sussex, the county council has agreed to invest £15m to more than match a central government grant of £10.6m to speed up internet connections.
Delivery partners are expected to match the combined funding, which could then see the broadband pot reach over £50m.
County council leader Peter Jones said the aim was to ensure rural and hard-to-reach areas, which may not otherwise be commercially viable, were on the priority list to be upgraded.
"Helping to provide superfast broadband for all is part of our overall budget for growth, which we believe will give our local economy a massive boost."
He added: "It's absolutely vital this broadband technology is made available to all our residents and small businesses."
In the north of England, Yorkshire communities around Darley, Blubberhouses and Appletreewick are celebrating the launch of their high-speed broadband network.
The new wireless internet connection has been made possible by grant funding from Connecting North Yorkshire (CNY) combined with the dedication of local broadband campaigners.
CNY is an initiative led by North Yorkshire County Council. The council has worked closely with Harrogate Borough Council and Craven District Council on the scheme.
The community broadband internet service provider will be LN Communications Ltd.
County Councillor Carl Les, who chairs Connecting North Yorkshire, said the team and its partners had worked hard to deliver funding for the scheme.
"Connecting homes and businesses at high speeds to the internet is vital for the future of the economy of rural communities."
Local Enterprise Partnership board member Ruth Smith said a high-speed connection would help to attract investment and bring business to the area.
She added: "It will help ensure that our rural communities remain vibrant places to live and work in the future."
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