CAMPAIGNERS in Huntingdonshire have helped secure a commitment to fibre based broadband for 98 per cent of households and businesses in Cambridgeshire by 2015.

“Broadband champions” in areas such as Great Staughton, Brampton, Grafham and Alconbury played their part in the Connecting Cambridgeshire campaign, ensuring the county will be one of the best connected areas in the UK.

Councillor Nick Clarke, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council signed the £45million deal with BT last Friday (March 8) – with the communications giants contributing £16million of that cost.

It is thought the project that will bring fibre based broadband to almost every home and business in the county will draw an additional £500million to the Cambridgeshire economy.

Cllr Clarke was full of praise for the support of more than 100 broadband champions in the region.

He said: “The champions have been absolutely fantastic in showing the demand for better broadband in Cambridgeshire and securing the best deal possible.

“The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme will open up the county to a wealth of opportunities such as growing business and creating jobs in rural areas, providing health, education and public services in better ways and helping young people and adult learners to develop key skills.”

The deal is set to benefit several important services in rural areas of Huntingdonshire including health care.

One such service is Brampton Surgery in Miller Way, Brampton, where slow internet connection seriously hinders the efficiency of health provision.

Dr Francesca Lasman, who has been at the Surgery for 25 years, said long delays in downloading patient’s files hindered the service.

“Not only is safety an issue but our consultations take longer and this means we may run late and have less time to attend to all the other things we need to keep up with such as administration, dealing with letters, chasing results which may be held on the hospital computer to which access is slow, and so on.”

The practice also uses the internet to download information for patients and doctors which is an important part of patient care.

BT have committed to rolling out the service to at least some homes and businesses by the end of the year but say people will have to be patient.

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access at BT, said: “Everyone will want it tomorrow, but everyone can’t have it tomorrow.

“Managing expectations is just as important as managing logistics.”