Computer keyboard. Pic: lapideo

Broadband speeds across Lichfield and Burntwood could be boosted after a £7.5million investment was given the green light.

The Government had agreed to match-fund local broadband improvement plans and Staffordshire County Council has agreed the investment to improve internet access across the region.

A survey into the demand for superfast broadband will be made available in May with responses demonstrating where it is needed most and why broadband companies should invest in Staffordshire.

The county council is also looking for ‘broadband champions’ across Staffordshire who will spread the word about the project in their communities and how people will benefit.

Broadband champions will also be asked to help identify the demand for faster broadband in their areas.

Cllr Mark Winnington said 90 per cent of properties in Staffordshire would have access to superfast broadband by mid-2015 thanks to the investment.

He added: “Government approval of our local broadband project plan is a significant milestone as it means we can really get going.

“In other areas local projects may still be looking at funding sources in order to unlock the Government support; but in Staffordshire we felt it was vital to commit ourselves to making this investment.

“The county council has demonstrated leadership in ensuring our residents and businesses have the same opportunities as people across Europe.

“We see superfast broadband as vital infrastructure which enables people to have access to business, education, health and leisure they need for everyday living.

“Our investment will see positive long-term returns for Staffordshire people and improve our economic prosperity.”

By the end of 2012 a company will have been selected to carry out the project with work set to begin by spring 2013. Currently there are 178,000 properties across Staffordshire without basic broadband (at least 2 mbps) and the chosen supplier must ensure that all properties have access to basic broadband, and ninety percent able to access superfast speeds, by mid-2015.