MILLIONS of pounds are being invested in rolling out superfast broadband connections for rural communities across Oxfordshire.

The investment of £3.6m capital funding by the county council will match money being provided by the Government.

From April, the council will also invest an additional £350,000 to speed up the process of bringing superfast broadband to Oxfordshire by 2015.

A pilot project is being launched in Wallingford as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK project, being run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

County council deputy leader David Robertson said: “There are some rural areas in Oxfordshire that already have superfast broadband but this is the first pilot project we have run and will work with BT Openreach to provide the best possible service we can.

“We chose Wallingford for the pilot after speaking to Ewelme Parish Council and RAF Benson, who were both trying to get faster broadband connections.

“This is a very important project and could bring economic benefits to businesses in a town like Wallingford.

“We can’t say yet which rural area will benefit next, but we are working on our broadband delivery plan and will submit it to the Government by April.”

Dan Beacham, deputy manager of KP Stationers in Market Place, Wallingford, said superfast broadband would be welcomed by businesses.

He said: “In the past, the internet was a luxury but nowadays it’s just as important as using the phone.”

As part of the pilot, Wallingford’s telephone exchange is being upgraded and, from June, 6,775 homes and 460 businesses will have the option to upgrade to superfast broadband.

This will include residents in Wallingford, Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, North Stoke, Ewelme, Crowmarsh Gifford and RAF Benson.