A funding package of £28.5m has been agreed to pay for fibre broadband connections to be installed at 96% of premises in Cheshire, Warrington and Halton.
The Connecting Cheshire Partnership will enable download speeds of 80Mbps by the end of 2016. The remaining 4% that currently experience low speeds will have a minimum of 2Mbps.
According to Ofcom, Cheshire's average speed is currently around 11Mbps whilst approximately 12% of the population receive less than 2Mbps.
BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Government's Broadband Delivery UK framework. BT will contribute £9m towards fibre deployment in "non-commercial" areas whilst the Connecting Cheshire Partnership will provide £1.85m, with a further £4m coming from the Government's Broadband Delivery UK funds and £13.6m from the European Regional Development Fund.
Openreach, BT's local network division, will now begin the work on the ground with engineers surveying locations around the county and analysing the best way to roll out the network. This initial survey work will take around eight months. Connecting Cheshire should be in a position to announce which communities will be included in the first stage of the roll-out in December 2013.