BT is to hook up Surrey businesses and communities with high-speed broadband access, in a £33m deal with Surrey County Council.
According to BT and the council, the project will make Surrey the "best-connected county in the UK", with almost all businesses and homes given access to up-to-80Mbps connectivity by the end of 2014. £20m of the cash will come from the council, £1.3m from the government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund and £11.8m from BT itself.
"This will be a great boost for business, from start-ups in small offices through to multi-nationals," the council's deputy leader, Peter Martin, said in a statement. "It can be crucial to the continued success of Surrey businesses and a huge attraction to those looking to move in."
In a figure estimated on the basis of World Bank research, Martin said the deal could boost the Surrey economy by £28m a year.
The deal was needed because, while BT is rolling out super-fast broadband on a purely commercial basis to two-thirds of the country, that deployment misses certain, less profitable locations.
In Surrey's case, more than 90,000 businesses and homes would have missed out without the arrangement announced on Wednesday. Other ISPs will be able to offer services over BT's wholesaled network.
Most of the rollout will be based on fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, hence the speeds of up to 80Mbps. BT will also be deploying its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services for those who stump up an installation fee, for which they will get up to 330Mbps.
According to the regulator Ofcom, the average UK broadband speed is 9Mbps — in Surrey, it's 7.4Mbps.