CHARMOUTH and Wootton Fitzpaine have become the first villages to benefit from the multi-million pound Superfast Dorset programme.

More than 400 homes and businesses in the two communities can now take up faster, more reliable broadband services, and this amount is due to increase as work continues in the coming weeks.

The £31.75 million partnership which was announced last year has been praised by the first businesses available to the scheme.

Jim Hosford, owner of Rotorflush Filters Ltd in Charmouth, said: "High speed broadband will bring benefits to our innovative design and engineering business.

“We'll be able to share larger files faster with our customers and suppliers, take advantage of cloud-based applications and storage, and speed up all our online activities.

“The wider Dorset economy will also profit from this exciting communications improvement."

A reception to mark the broadband milestone will be held in Charmouth on May 23.

Cllr Robert Gould, leader of West Dorset District Council, will join the Superfast Dorset team to switch on a new green roadside cabinet on the intersection of The Street and Higher Sea Lane in Charmouth, from 11.30am.

The event also presents an opportunity for local residents and businesses to find out how they can benefit.

Cllr Gould labelled superfast broadband as ‘essential’ for West Dorset’s future economy and residents.

He said: “It will make it easier for people to work from home, do business online and also download films and television.

This is why West Dorset District Council has invested £1.3 million to help get superfast broadband to parts of our areas that would otherwise have missed out.”

Cllr Spencer Flower, leader of Dorset County Council which is investing over £7.4 million in the project, claimed the project will breathe new life into Dorset’s villages.

The partnership aims to ensure a minimum speed of 2Mbps for all premises within the programme area where fibre broadband isn’t viable.

People are advised that existing broadband connections do not upgrade automatically, and customers will have to contact their broadband provider and buy a superfast service.