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£31 million Dorset deal will bring superfast broadband to thousands more homes and businesses

Press Release   •   Jul 10, 2013 00:00 BST

97 per cent of Dorset premises will have access to fibre based technology 

A multi-million pound contract to bring faster broadband speeds to thousands more homes and businesses in Dorset was signed today (Wednesday July 10). 

Dorset County Council and BT have agreed a £31.75 million deal which will see high-speed fibre optic broadband becoming available to 97 per cent of premises in the county within three and a half years. 

The Superfast Dorset project builds on BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband, which has already made the technology available to more than half of Dorset’s homes and businesses (more than 190,000 premises). The commercial programme will reach more than 260,000 premises by the end of Spring 2014. 

The new fibre network will transform broadband speeds across the county and its rural areas. According to the regulator Ofcom in November 2012, the average downstream speed in Dorset was 8.7 Mbps whilst 13.9 per cent of premises received less than 2Mbps. 

The partnership will also aim to ensure broadband speeds of at least 2Mbps in the minority of places where fibre broadband isn’t viable. 

BT was chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process. The company is contributing £12.87 million towards the overall cost of deployment in “non-commercial” areas, while Dorset County Council and the county’s district and borough councils are contributing £9.44 million and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) a further £9.44 million. The Dorset councils have invested a further £1.3 million to make sure the benefits of the network are maximised. 

Surveying work on the project will start in the autumn and the first locations to be upgraded will be announced later this year. 

Councillor Spencer Flower, Leader of Dorset County Council, said: 

“It's very important this broadband technology is made available to as many residents and businesses as possible. We want everyone in Dorset to have access to reliable and faster broadband within the next three and a half years and I'm delighted by this announcement as it's a major step forward for our county. 

“We know that some residents and businesses are frustrated by slow or no broadband access in Dorset, especially in rural areas - it’s one of the biggest issues facing our county. 

“With the contract now signed, work on the project can get underway. This will give Dorset the competitive edge it needs to attract new businesses and will empower our communities by providing access to services, jobs, education.” 

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: 

“This is great news for Dorset. Fibre broadband will provide a strong, reliable connection to the rest of the world – opening new horizons, helping us to be more efficient and keeping us in touch with vital services. 

“Faster broadband will help local businesses grow, attracting inward investment and boosting the local economy. If they thrive then everyone thrives – local businesses are the lifeblood of every community, creating jobs and stimulating growth.” 


Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: 

“Today’s announcement sees Dorset join counties all around the UK already undergoing a fantastic transformation of their broadband services. The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and this project will deliver superfast access to 95 per cent of properties in Dorset, providing a tremendous boost to the Dorset local economy.” 

James Weld, Superfast Dorset representative from the Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 

“Having better, faster broadband will play a major role in strengthening the Dorset business community as well as giving residents greater flexibility to use new technology for learning and entertainment. Improved and faster connectivity will unleash even more of our county’s potential.” 

ENDS 

Notes to Editors: 

About the network 

Engineers for Openreach, BT’s local network business, will build the new fibre infrastructure, mostly by a technology called fibre to the cabinet. This can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the premises technology – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be used in certain areas. Fibre to the premises will be available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint if local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers . 

The new fibre-based network will be open to all internet service providers on an equivalent basis.There are more than 80 service providers currently offering or using fibre services over BT’s network. Households and businesses in the project area will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households. 

Superfast broadband benefits include users being able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. New fibre services are set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available on-line. 

For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become a viable possibility 

The Government’s Vision 

The Government’s ambition is to achieve a transformation in broadband in the UK by 2015. It has allocated £530 million during the current spending review period to stimulate commercial investment to roll out high-speed broadband. 

Last week it announced a further £250m post 2015 to further support coverage of superfast broadband. 

About the Superfast Dorset project 

Superfast Dorset is a partnership between BT, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Dorset County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, the Borough of Poole, Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. 

Partner contributions 
BT - £12.87 m 
DCMS - £9.44 m 
Dorset councils - £9.44 m towards the infrastructure plus a further £1.3 m to ensure the benefits are maximised. 

Further information is available from www.dorsetforyou.com/superfast. 


What happens next: 

• Contract signed 10 July 


• Six to nine month mobilisation period 
– joint project team to be established 
– surveying for rollout 
– working with stakeholders to ensure they understand their role in ensuring a smooth rollout 


• End 2013/early 2014 
– announcement of first cabinets ready for service 


• Implementation in phases 
– Individual communities will be told it’s coming six months before delivery 
– communities will see surveying, new cabinet installation etc 
– communities will have the chance to find out what broadband can do for them etc 


More information about Superfast Dorset is available at www.dorsetforyou.com/superfast