A SMALL village has become the first rural community to benefit from a multi-million pound Superfast Lancashire project.
Completion of engineering work means most of the 240 premises in the village of Belthorn will now be able to connect to super-fast fibre broadband.
The Superfast Lancashire project will bring high-speed broadband to 97% of the county's homes and businesses by the end of 2015.
Villagers can look forward to download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps.
This will enable them to download and share large files of information, upload photographs, download music, films and television programmes, and surf the internet much faster.
Haslingden and Hyndburn MP Graham Jones, said superfast broadband could transform businesses and communities, boosting the local economy and service delivery.
"The fact that a rural community like Belthorn is among the first to benefit from this partnership demonstrates the collective determination to get this exciting technology to local villages.
Mr Jones added: "It will also provide a transformational improvement in the delivery of public information and services."
Local landlord Nicholas Parker, who runs the Dog Inn, said: "We offer free Wi-Fi to customers but with the current connections the service is a bit hit and miss."
Mr Parker plans to offer a wireless hub so business customers can hold meetings, a sports hub so fans can watch games, and an entertainment hub for films and online gaming.
"I believe this service will be a huge benefit to us and cannot wait to get it up and running."
Local business UK Insulations Ltd was the first premise in the village to order a fibre broadband service and is already seeing the benefits.
Finance director Ian Billing, said: "We're expanding and have customers around the world from China to South America.
"Having superfast broadband will help us to compete with larger businesses, in this global marketplace, on an equal footing."
Work on the Superfast Lancashire project is well underway across the county - with a total of around 17,000 homes and businesses expected to be connected by the year end.
Openreach engineers from BT will work on laying around 2,700km of optical fibre cable and installing a total of around 700 new fibre broadband cabinets throughout project area.
It is estimated that engineers will complete over a million hours of work planning and building the network during the lifetime of the project.
The Openreach network is open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis, so residents will be able to choose from a number of different suppliers of fibre broadband.
Superfast Lancashire is a partnership between Lancashire County Council and BT, with additional funding from the Government's Broadband Delivery UK.
Other funders include the European Regional Development Fund, Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackpool Council.
County Council leader Jennifer Mein said: "We are determined that the more rural parts of the county also benefit from Superfast Lancashire.
"It is great to see communities like Belthorn starting to enjoy the advantages that the project is bringing. I look forward to many more rural communities getting connected."
Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.