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Unused funds from the first phase of the government's rural connectivity project are to be reinvested in boosting broadband coverage.

According to Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a £150 million underspend has been identified and this money will be reinvested in improving connectivity in hard-to-reach areas.

Chris Townsend, Chief Executive of BDUK, said it hopes this money will "give us at least one more percentage point [of coverage]".

He cited County Durham as one big success story during the first phase of the rural broadband rollout.

Speaking at the Connected Britain event in London, he stated that its coverage rate has gone up from 60 per cent of premises three years ago to 98 per cent today.

Mr Townsend said this has brought speeds of at least 24Mbps to 140,000 premises in the area.

He added that this improvement in broadband connectivity has coincided with unemployment in County Durham falling from 8.4 per cent to 2.2 per cent, as well as the number of operating small and medium-sized enterprises rising by 11 per cent.

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