WEB users in 8,000 homes and businesses in rural Hampshire are set to get high-speed Internet connections.

The new state-of-the-art network is being installed as part of a £13.8m Superfast Broadband Programme The joint Hampshire County Council and BT scheme will deliver fibre optic broadband to 95 per cent of the county’s more isolated homes and business by 2017.

From between April and June residents in 21 more communities will be able to benefit from the new technology under the project’s second phase.

The council has already invested £5m into the £13.8m scheme and has earmarked a further £9.2m.

County council leader Cllr Roy Perry said the authority is making “good progress” and added: “This is bringing Internet services to people in the county’s rural communities who would otherwise be left with limited access or none at all, because the commercial market will not reach them.

“We recognise access will play an increasingly important role in Hampshire’s social and economic development, as well as in our strategy to tackle isolation and access to services in rural areas.”

Businesses will be able to speed up file and data transfers, process software from cloud computing, host regular conference and video calls and allow staff to work from home.

New areas due to receive faster connections include Ashurst, Cadnam, Fawley, Gosport, Hythe, Lee-on-the- Solent, Lymington, Lyndhurst, Milford on Sea, Romsey, Totton and West Wellow.