MORE than 50,000 homes in the most hard-to-reach parts of the county will be given greater access to superfast internet as part of a huge broadband upgrade scheme.

Worcestershire will be one of the first parts of the country to benefit from the Government’s Project Gigabit which will see more than 51,400 homes boosted with high-speed internet connections.

As much as £84 million has been put aside by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to connect the rural parts of the county with work expected to start in May next year.

Project Gigabit will support further upgrade of communities which have been hard-to-reach and often left out of the commercial broadband rollout programme.

Homes and businesses connected as part of this project should expect to access internet speeds of 1,000 megabits per second allowing high definition (HD) films to be downloaded in less than 30 seconds as well as paving the way for ultra-high quality 8K video streaming and other future technologies, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said.

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin said: “Broadband has been a long-standing, thorny issue for some of the very rural communities in West Worcestershire and although many homes already have good internet connections, a worryingly large number still report to me that they are struggling with slow speeds.

“The pandemic has shown us how vital a good internet connection is, so I welcome this extra investment to bring everyone up to the same speed where possible.

“I will be looking forward to seeing the detail on this project to see how and where this money will be spent. It really is essential that people, wherever they live, are able to access a decent internet connection and a reliable mobile phone signal.

“I hope this is a further step towards that essential goal as we build back better as the impact of the pandemic recedes.”

The £5 billion Project Gigabit scheme is part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s target of achieving at least 85 per cent gigabit-capable UK coverage by 2025 which officials say the Government is “on track” to meet.