Major investment will build region’s reputation as “a great place to live and do business”;
Six more Birmingham and Black Country communities added to BT’s roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband
BT today announced a major expansion of high-speed fibre broadband in Birmingham and the Black Country, which is expected to help create jobs and give a big boost to the local economy.
Another 245,000 homes and businesses across the West Midlands are to be included in BT’s £2.5 billion commercial roll-out of fibre broadband in the UK.
The latest communities to benefit - including Chelmsley Wood, Stechford, parts of Aston, as well as Finchfield, Oldbury and Tipton – will be upgraded by the end of Spring 2014. The expansion also includes a substantial investment in making fibre broadband more widely available in areas which already have the high-speed technology or are due to receive it.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce said today that the investment would help to build confidence of an economic recovery among local households and businesses.
It will take the total number of premises with access to fibre broadband in the region to more than 1.7 million, and BT is keen to bring more communities within reach by working with the public sector.
John Dovey BT’s West Midlands regional director, said: “This latest investment is a major vote of confidence in the future success of the region. It will be a key part of our economic revival as we finally shrug off the effects of the downturn and create a better, more prosperous future.
“Fast, sophisticated communications are the cornerstone of a successful community, helping local people to build their skills and knowledge and encouraging the creation of new businesses and jobs. This exciting technology will transform on-line education, training and leisure for households and enhance the competitiveness of local firms.
“BT has now announced plans to make fibre broadband available more than 1.7 million homes and businesses across the West Midlands. Reaching that target will be a substantial achievement, but we want to go much further by working with the public sector to bring this exciting technology to more challenging areas.”
Jerry Blackett, chief executive of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group, said: “This is very welcome news as we move forward in another challenging year. Local firms and households will be greatly encouraged by such a major investment, which demonstrates that we are making progress even in these tough economic times. It will reinforce our region’s strong credentials as a great place to live and do business. High-speed communications have never been more vital in order to succeed in an ever more competitive and connected world.”
BT’s local network business, Openreach, will be making fibre broadband available to two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of Spring 2014. The roll-out uses a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies. More than 13 million UK premises can already access fibre broadband and this figure is increasing by around 100,000 every week.
Both technologies offer speeds many times faster than the current UK average, reported by the regulator Ofcom to be 9Mbps. FTTC, where fibre is delivered to new street cabinets, offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps 1.
FTTP, where fibre runs all the way to homes and businesses, offers a variety of download speeds with the current top speed being 330Mbps1. From Spring 2013 BT aims to make speeds of 330Mbps 2 available on demand in any area where FTTC has been deployed 2.
BT’s network is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies providing broadband services so West Midlands households and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.
Internet users with a fibre broadband connection can do much more online, all at the same time. A family can download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the net and play games online simultaneously. A whole album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds.
The upload speeds are the fastest widely available to consumers in the UK, with large video and data files being sent almost instantly and hi-resolution photos posted online in seconds. And high quality voice and video calls mean businesses can keep in touch with customers while they cut down on travel.
For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit www.superfast-openreach.co.uk
Other West Midlands communities included in today’s announcement are:
Greyfriars, Keresley and Walsgrave in Coventry; Cuckoo Oak, Hollinswood and Market Drayton in Shropshire; Blythe Bridge, Milton Lee, Stoke and Trentham in Staffordshire; Atherstone, Shipston-on-Stour and Wellesbourne in Warwickshire; and Hagley in Worcestershire.
Notes to editors
1 These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
2 Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that onto businesses or consumers wishing to take advantage of the product.
Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within the selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Alternative solutions for these locations are being investigated.