HUNDREDS of homes are now benefitting after a community fight saw Virgin Media take on a pilot project to give rural homes faster internet.

Around 640 homes in both Test Valley and Dun Valley have already seen the project completed after a community campaign from Test Valley Need 4 Speed and West Tytherley Broadband Group fought for faster speeds.

They were also supported by Romsey and Southampton North MP Caroline Nokes, who helped mark the start of the scheme in a ground-breaking ceremony.

Overall, the project will enable up to 4,000 premises across 12 villages to access speeds almost 200 times faster than previous rates.

Now, a host of community leaders have paid tribute to the community spirit, with Chilbolton already benefitting.

Cate Bell, chairman of West Tytherley and Frenchmoor Parish Council said: “We are really pleased that Virgin Media’s network is now starting to appear across the Test and Dun Valley villages.

“Their build is the result of a huge community campaign, championed by several individuals across the area, and we are glad that villagers can now start to benefit from this brilliant initiative.”

Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, Phil North, said: “Access to superfast broadband for Hampshire homes and businesses is an important contributor to economic prosperity.

“The work of the Test Valley community and Virgin Media is very welcome indeed, demonstrating what can be achieved by residents working collaboratively to find effective broadband solutions in ‘hard to reach’ areas.”

Other villages that will benefit include Houghton, West Tytherley, Michelmersh and Timsbury.

The average in the project area is a broadband speed of just 5mbps, which is half of what regulator Ofcom deems the minimum. Now they will be close to 200mbps.

MP Caroline Nokes, who supported the campaign, said: “I am thrilled that ultrafast broadband is now becoming available to residents in the Test Valley. I know that Virgin Media and the local community have been working hand in hand to make this project possible and their efforts are paying off. ”