IT could be a £15m shot in the arm to improve much needed superfast broadband in rural Hampshire.

The county council is considering bidding for £7.69m made available by a government grant to improve broadband links.

But to take advantage of the money the county must pledge to match-fund it from its own coffers.

It is part of a total £8.7m fund for Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth councils, with less money made available to the cities because they already have good broadband links.

A county spokesman said council bosses had not yet decided whether to match the cash but would do so before the deadline in two months.

But Southampton City Council is unsure how much money it would potentially receive from the fund.

Leader Simon Letts said: “I would be surprised if we saw any of that money but any extra resources will always be welcomed and we would use it to improve wireless connectivity throughout the city. I have heard nothing from officers to indicate this money is coming to us.”

Superfast broadband makes streaming and downloading files at home much quicker and can also be used by businesses for video conferencing and improving efficiency.

The £8m is part of a £250m investment nationwide to boost start-up businesses and create more jobs, with 56,000 expected to be created by 2024.

Hampshire’s £8m fund is the highest in the south east.