THOUSANDS more homes and businesses in Barnsley will be ‘future-proofed’ as part of the largest-ever independent investment into the UK’s digital infrastructure.

It’s been anounced that phase two of CityFibre’s full fibre rollout to connect residents to super-fast broadband and 5G networks will include work in Brierley, Goldthorpe, Great Houghton, Hoyland, Thurnscoe, Wombwell, Darfield, Bolton-upon-Dearne and Wath-upon-Dearne.

CityFibre started work locally on phase one in January, the first stage of more than £30m investment in the borough - and £4bn nationally.

The newly-named towns and villages are some of 216 additional areas covered in the rollout, expected to be completed by 2025.

CityFibre chief executive Greg Mesch said: “We’re delighted to welcome so many new towns, villages and communities to our full fibre rollout programme.

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“By 2025, our world-class digital infrastructure will be within reach of nearly a third of the UK market, connecting homes, businesses, schools and hospitals, and supporting 5G mobile networks.

“Building the network is the first step.

“It’s only through the use of this world-class full fibre infrastructure that we can derive the maximum benefit for our economic recovery and future success.”

A report discussed by Barnsley Council’s ruling cabinet in January last year found fibre network coverage in Barnsley was at 3.99 per cent, lower than the 10.4 per cent national average.

The study revealed Barnsley was, at the time, ‘not well served’ by the next generation of digital connectivity.

But the borough has been boosted by CityFibre capitalising on Ofcom’s recent encouragement of competition in communications infrastructure, which has meant it can more quickly and easily establish local networks.

Phase one of CityFibre’s work, which started in the Redbrook area, is estimated to have the potential to raise £14m through new businesses taking advantage of the increased connectivity, while adding millions to the value of homes and increasing opportunities for existing firms.

Cudworth, Royston, Darton and areas around the town centre are all within phase one plans.

More rural communities could benefit in the near future if CityFibre participates in the government’s Building Digital UK campaign, which includes efforts to connect hard-to-reach places.

Matthew Gladstone, executive director of place at Barnsley Council, said: “We welcome this private investment by CityFibre into Barnsley to deliver a modern, fit-for-purpose digital infrastructure that will be future-proof for residents and businesses.

“CityFibre’s full fibre network will be vital in ensuring Barnsley has a resilient and dynamic economy for years to come and we look forward to working with them as they begin the build.”

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, added: “This investment in digital infrastructure from CityFibre represents not just a multimillion investment but an additional multi-million pound opportunity for businesses and individuals across Barnsley.”