THE Digital Region broadband network covering Barnsley is a step closer to going live after a preferred bidder was selected to operate the service.

French firm Bouygues Energies and Services has been chosen to deliver the 'superfast' broadband, beating BT Wholesale Managed Services.

David Cowell, chief operating officer for Digital Region, said: "The process is still ongoing and DRL will continue to negotiate with BYES to agree a contract ready for execution in the first quarter of 2013."

The aim of the Digital Region project is to put South Yorkshire at the forefront of digital communications by providing an unrivalled level of high bandwidth broadband access to households and businesses.

The announcement of a preferred bidder comes after the project ran into financial troubles last year as it struggled to attract a major internet firm to sell the service - meaning few people signed up to it.