Rural Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire companies are to benefit from a £9.5 million rural broadband roll-out through the help of government cash.

Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Councils have signed a contract with BT which will see fibre broadband becoming available to more than 90 percent of premises in the two counties by the end of March 2016.

The councils' Connected Counties programme will make fibre broadband, delivering speeds of up to 80mbps, available to more than 52,500 homes and businesses in the two counties - 38,500 in Buckinghamshire and 14,000 in Hertfordshire - over the next three years.

Typical fibre broadband speeds available to customers will be 20mbps-plus. Additionally, the project aims to ensure that everyone in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire has access to a minimum 2mbps broadband service.

Buckinghamshire County Council leader Martin Tett said, “Superfast broadband has the potential to transform our economy and our lives as dramatically as the railways did for the Victorians.”

Hertfordshire County Council and Buckinghamshire County Council are contributing £1.61 million and £3.7 million respectively, including funding from two local enterprise partnerships. A further £4.15 million is coming from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.

All similar rural broadband projects up and down the country financed by the government have been won by BT.

The total £500 million-plus government scheme is subject to an ongoing National Audit Office investigation, which will consider whether the scheme has been worth the money.