RURAL communities across East Lancashire are set to get superfast broadband for the first time as a result of a multi-million pound project.

Among the communities that will benefit from the latest roll out are Earby, Kelbrook, Foulridge, Wilpshire, Langho and Mellor.

The rapid progress of the Superfast Lancashire project, which is backed by Lancashire County Council, means that 52 per cent of the county can now get access to high-speed fibre broadband when BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband is also taken into account.

This takes the total number of premises with the technology across the county to more than 350,000.

Engineers have also begun planning and building the next phase of the Superfast Lancashire project – providing a further 21,500 homes and businesses with access to superfast broadband by the end of March.

The latest phase will also see ‘substantial investment’ to extend access to faster broadband in a number of Lancashire communities where the technology is already available, including around 1,200 homes and businesses in Bacup.

Engineers are expected to complete the latest phase by the middle of March.

With homes and businesses able to start ordering a service from their broadband provider by the end of the month.

County councillor Sean Serridge, champion for digital inclusion at Lancashire County Council, said: “This is a great achievement and shows we are well on the way to achieving our goal of providing 97 per cent of the county with superfast broadband by the end of next year.

“Superfast broadband is hugely important for the county both economically and socially.

“There can be few areas of modern life which are not touched in some way by broadband connectivity – whether it’s supporting how we work, how we learn, how we communicate with friends and family, or how we entertain ourselves.”

Steve Edwards, BT director for next generation access for the north of the UK, said: “This is a great achievement, particularly with all the challenges that rolling out a fibre network in such rural and remotely populated county like Lancashire brings.