BARNSLEY has joined forces with BT in a £22 million deal to extend the availability of high-speed broadband to around 98 per cent of homes and businesses in South Yorkshire.

The new scheme is being led by Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield councils with support from the Sheffield City Region's local enterprise partnership.

Barnsley Council's involvement with the new scheme follows the demise of the Digital Region Ltd project, which the council invested £7m in to and ended up costing taxpayers a staggering £155m before being abandoned last August.

Coun Sir Steve Houghton CBE, leader of Barnsley Council, has worked with other region leaders on this joint project with private sector investment.

He said: "We’ll increase fibre broadband coverage across South Yorkshire, taking it from the current 80 per cent to around 98 per cent by the end of 2017.

"Private sector investment from BT is helping us to make this £22 million project happen. This is a major achievement for the city region, and a huge step forwards for South Yorkshire."

The first communities across South Yorkshire can look forward to improved access to online services and better connectivity for businesses from summer 2015.

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