RURAL areas of Hampshire are set to benefit from the latest phase of a scheme to roll out superfast broadband to Internet blackspots.

Under the programme, more than 11,000 new homes and businesses in country spots, including outside Romsey and in the New Forest, will see their broadband speed improve from now until December.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the county council have ploughed £18.4 million into the Hampshire Superfast Broadband Programme, which aims to have fast Internet speed for at least 95 per cent of all homes and firms.

British Telecom has contributed a further £3.8 million towards the cost of installing the new infrastructure.

The multi-million-pound project will see cabinets switched on in county areas, including near Lockerley, Lymington, Milford on Sea, Brockenhurst and Sway.

County council leader Cllr Roy Perry said: “The roll-out of superfast broadband is fully on-track.

“Superfast broadband is increasingly important if local households and businesses are to make the most of the huge range of opportunities which are offered by the Internet, whether they are seeking to start a new business, find new customers, undertake online training or simply wish to browse for entertainment or leisure purposes.”

BT’s Peter Cowen said: “Today’s announcement is another important milestone for a partnership which is making real progress.

“Working with our partners, we are able to bring this game-changing technology to locations where the economics and engineering challenges are that much greater.”