MILLIONS of pounds will be pumped into superfast broadband for thousands more Hampshire residents and businesses.

The next phase of the Hampshire Superfast Broadband scheme will cost £7.8m and will give 10,000 more properties access to internet speeds of 24 megabits per second by 2019.

The Hampshire County Council drive aims to bring faster internet to 97.4 per cent of the county in the next three years.

During the first wave of the scheme, superfast broadband was rolled out across 59,500 properties, increasing coverage from 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the county.

The start of the second wave, affecting a further 43,000 homes and businesses, will begin in September 2018. A further 2,000 premises could also be reached through the £1m Community Match Funding Scheme which allows the council to provide up to half of the funding for communities who want to self-fund.

By the end of the programme in 2019, Hampshire County Council will have invested £12.9m in superfast broadband - with £16.4m from the department for culture, media and sport and £1.25m from district councils.

Council leader Councillor Roy Perry, who gave the green light for the second wave on Wednesday, said it was a vital investment to ensure Hampshire businesses and families continued to thrive in today’s digital world, particularly in harder to reach, rural parts of the county which make up the remaining few per cent.

He added: "We are committed to leaving no-one behind. As a council, we do not have any statutory obligations to increase access to superfast broadband – that rests with the Government.

"However, we recognise that this infrastructure is crucial for the future prosperity of the county which is why we’re continuing to invest in this technology with our partners, such as BT, to support the local economy, help pupils with education and homework, and reduce social isolation by making it easier for people to communicate online.

“We will be making further approaches to the Enterprise M3 and Solent Local Enterprise Partnerships and district councils to ask them to join our commitment and invest more funding in the superfast broadband programme - and help as many Hampshire residents as we can.”

Stacey King, BT’s regional partnership director for the South East, said the announcement was another important milestone for a partnership which was making great progress.

She added: "Working with Hampshire County Council, we are able to bring high-speed fibre broadband to locations where the economics and engineering are more challenging.

"High-speed fibre broadband is increasingly important and this is a great opportunity for more homes and businesses to make the most of the wide range benefits that are offered by the internet.”