The first places to get superfast broadband were unveiled today (21 February) as part of a scheme to make Surrey the best connected county in the UK.
Surrey County Council and BT announced that around 15,000 homes and businesses will get access to the high speed service by the end of September.
These will be served by 14 new exchanges which are Abinger, Betchworth, Bramley, Chobham, Dawes Green, Dunsfold, Elstead, Godstone, Newdigate, Nuffield Ridge, Oakwood Hill, Oxted, South Godstone, Wormley and other exchanges previously announced 1.
Other parts of Surrey will follow hot on their heels to ensure virtually every business and home will get all the benefits of superfast broadband before the end of next year. The Government has challenged counties to get to 90 per cent coverage by 2015, so Surrey is well ahead of the pack at nearly 100 per cent.
The news came at an event marking the launch of a new website – www.superfastsurrey.org.uk – to keep households and firms up to date with roll-out details.
Surrey’s roll-out of high-speed broadband could boost the local economy by as much as £28 million a year* and FTTC, where fibre is delivered to new street cabinets, offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps** and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps**.
From Spring 2013 BT will also start to roll out its ultra-fast fibre on demand service with speeds of up to 330mbps** available in areas enabled with fibre broadband***. According to Ofcom, the national average download speed is around 9Mbps.
Last September, the county council selected BT to create a high-speed network. The £35 million deal will ensure the county council achieves its aim of providing superfast broadband for up to 20 per cent of businesses and homes – more than 80,000 premises – not included in any commercial roll-out nationally.
Surrey County Council deputy leader Peter Martin said: "This very much keeps Surrey at the forefront of the superfast broadband roll-out nationally and means we remain on track to make Surrey the best connected county in the UK.
"The benefits will be massive. Helping businesses trade online will provide an estimated £28 million boost to the economy annually while virtually everyone in Surrey will be able to enjoy fast, reliable internet access so they stay ahead in the digital world.”
Bill Murphy, BT's next generation access managing director, said: "This is a very exciting day for Surrey. Revealing the first communities set to get fibre broadband as a direct result of the partnership is a real indication of how well the plan is progressing.
"The council has far-reaching and dynamic plans for the people who live and work in this county and BT is delighted to be on this journey too. Rolling out fibre broadband to places which are not part of our commercial roll-out is a challenging engineering project. Our engineers have been out surveying the area and will now be installing the cabinets and fibre which will be powering internet connections and revolutionising communications for many communities."
Fibre broadband benefits include being able to send and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and having the ability to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time.
BT exchanges serving Surrey already offer nearly 360,000 homes and businesses access to fibre broadband. This forms part of its £2.5 billion overall commercial investment in UK fibre broadband. The investment in fibre broadband will boost the local economy and help to create or protect local jobs. It will be of particular benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.
BT's network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Surrey consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.
*Based on World Bank research, which showed that a 1% increase in broadband coverage results in a 0.12% rise in GDP. Surrey’s GVA – equivalent to GDP – is £28bn a year, meaning growth of 0.1% through better broadband coverage would result in a £28m boost to the county’s economy.
**These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
*** Where fibre broadband has been deployed and top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers. Openreach will levy an installation charge on FTTP on demand.
1 Previously announced exchange areas to get additional fibre broadband through the partnership:
Bagshot, Bookham, Cranleigh, Dorking, Godalming, Merstham and Redhill.