Wiltshire Council has signed a £15.5 million contract with BT to provide superfast broadband across the county.

It is hoped the deal will enable 91 per cent of homes and businesses in Wiltshire to access world-class broadband speeds by March 2016, with over 104,000 homes set to benefit.

A period of planning will now follow the signing, with initial work expected to begin in autumn and the first exchanges to go live in spring next year.

The project aims to see the majority of homes and businesses able to enjoy speeds above 24Mbps and up to 80Mbps.

John Thomson, Wiltshire Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “Today’s announcement will see Wiltshire becoming one of the most fibre-enabled counties in the country, after struggling with slower broadband speeds in the past.

"This project will really put the county on the map, attracting more businesses, helping existing ones grow and enabling rural properties to become less isolated.”

The contract was signed in conjunction with South Gloucestershire Council and BT, and includes a £4.6 million investment from Broadband Development UK and £740,000 from the European Regional Development Fund.

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Broadband from BT Group said: “It’s great to see Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire working in partnership to bring the best possible broadband to their rural communities.

“High speed broadband is critical to attracting new businesses to the area and providing individuals with access to the myriad of new applications and services that are becoming available.

“The good news is that this project will catapult Wiltshire into the broadband fast lane, providing a choice of service provider and a sustained and long term broadband solution for businesses and individuals in rural as well as urban areas.”