A £16.9 million high-speed broadband deal which will boost Leicestershire’s economy has been signed by the county council and BT.
When combined with plans by the private sector, this should enable 95 per cent of homes and businesses in the county to access much faster internet speeds by the end of March 2016.
Additionally the project aims to deliver a minimum of 2Mbps for all premises in Leicestershire.
The contract was signed today (August 28) at Foxton Locks, which is one of the rural areas set to benefit. Faster speeds will make it easier to use features such as high quality video-conferencing, cloud computing services and video.
Blake Pain, the county council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “We predict that faster broadband will create a £92 million* boost to Leicestershire’s economy over the next seven years, by making firms more competitive and attracting inward investment and jobs.
“Rural communities and businesses can play a major role in the county’s future, once they have the high speed connections they need to compete nationally and internationally.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “This is terrific news for the people of Leicestershire. Fibre broadband will bring the rest of the digital world right to the doorsteps of thousands more homes and businesses across the county.
“Faster broadband will help to unlock rural Leicestershire’s economic potential. The Leicestershire economy, especially in rural areas predominantly consists of small and micro businesses. A large number of people are self-employed, work from home and are in the creative, knowledge based sectors which need high speed broadband and will provide the driving force for the county’s digital economy.”
The Government has welcomed the deal. Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “Thousands more of Leicestershire’s homes and businesses will be able to access high-speed broadband as a result of this project, which will see a remarkable transformation of broadband throughout the county.
"The UK already does more business online than any other European country and widespread access to high speeds will provide a welcome boost to the local economy.”
The county council is investing £4.1 million as part of the deal, with £3.3 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds and £1.23 million from the European Union. BT is contributing a further £8.3 million.
The contract signed today builds on BT’s on-going commercial fibre rollout in Leicestershire, which has already made the technology available to more than 190,000 homes and businesses there. The commercial programme aims to reach more than 270,000 by the end of spring 2014.
High-speed fibre to the cabinet broadband provides download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the premises broadband – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – may also be deployed in certain areas and could become available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint should local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers1.
At home, fibre broadband enables a family to download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the internet and play games online all at the same time. 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.
According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average residential broadband download speed in Leicestershire is 12.4Mbps with 10.8 per cent getting less than 2Mbps.
BT’s local network business Openreach will start survey work in the autumn and the first locations to be upgraded will be announced early next year.
The new fibre network will be open to all communications providers on an open, wholesale basis. There are more than 80 service providers currently offering or using fibre services over the Openreach network, creating increased competition and choice.