An £18.06 million project to transform broadband speeds for thousands more businesses and residents across Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire was announced today.
Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Councils have signed a contract with BT which will see fibre broadband becoming available to more than 90 per cent of premises in the two counties by the end of March 2016. This is a major step forward for the Connected Counties programme which is run jointly by the two County Councils.
The Connected Counties programme will make fibre broadband, delivering speeds of up to 80Mbps*, available to more than 52,500 homes and businesses in the two counties – 38,500 in Buckinghamshire and 14,000 in Hertfordshire – in the next three years. It builds on BT’s commercial roll-out which has so far made the technology available to more than 153,000 homes and businesses in Buckinghamshire County Council area and more than 400,000 in Hertfordshire.
Additionally, the project aims to ensure that everyone in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire has access to a minimum of 2Mbps broadband speeds (fast enough to watch BBC iPlayer).
Robert Gordon, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council welcomed the deal: “I’d like to thank everyone in Hertfordshire who took the time to register their interest and helped us to reach this important milestone. Faster broadband will boost our economy as it makes local businesses much more competitive and it is great for families who need to access multiple devices at the same time."
Buckinghamshire County Council Leader Martin Tett said: “This is a fantastic step forward in our commitment to make the county a great place to do business and to live”, he said. “Superfast broadband has the potential to transform our economy and our lives as dramatically as the railways did for the Victorians.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director, Next Generation Access, added: “This is fantastic news and this project will move Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire well and truly into the broadband fast lane. We’re already seeing the positive impact that faster, fibre broadband is having and now, thanks to this partnership, this investment will further boost the position of the two counties as being among the leading creators of new businesses.”
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This Government is committed to transforming the nation’s Broadband, and today’s announcement is tremendous news for the people of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. This project will deliver a huge boost to the local economy, and more than 52,500 homes and businesses across these “Connected Counties” will be able to enjoy all the benefits that superfast broadband has to offer.”
Andrew Percival and Michael Garvey, representing Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and Buckinghamshire (Thames Valley) Local Enterprise Partnership respectively, added: “Both Local Enterprise Partnerships are pleased to see the project reach this important milestone. This investment will enable enterprises and business parks to reap the benefits of superfast connectivity, enhancing the prospects for business growth, job creation and economic competitiveness.”
Improving broadband speeds has long been an ambition of both county councils. More than 11,700 residents and businesses in the two counties registered their interest in receiving superfast broadband following a successful campaign.
BT was chosen by the Councils following an extensive and thorough procurement process. The company is contributing £8.6 million to the project while Hertfordshire County Council and Buckinghamshire County Council are contributing £1.61 million and £3.7 million respectively, including funding from the two Local Enterprise Partnerships. A further £4.15million is coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds.
Hertfordshire County Council and Buckinghamshire County Council will be working with BT to identify which areas of the two counties will be upgraded to fibre broadband through this intervention programme. There will be a phased approach to the roll-out of fibre broadband, with the first areas predicted to be upgraded in mid-2014.
Notes to Editors
Openreach will install the fibre network which will be open to all communication providers on an equal wholesale basis. 80 service providers currently use BT’s fibre network to offer broadband service to customers. Businesses and residents in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices.
* Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), where the fibre runs from the telephone exchange as far as the nearest BT street cabinet, will be the main technology deployed. This can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps.
According to the Ofcom Fixed Broadband Speeds Map 2012, the average broadband speed in Hertfordshire is 16Mbps, with 9.5% of premises receiving less than 2Mbps. In Buckinghamshire, the average speed is 12.4Mbps and 11.6% of premises receive less than 2Mbps.
Under the contract, 14,010 premises in Hertfordshire and 38,528 premises in Buckinghamshire will have access to fibre broadband by the end of March 2016. Additional funding was provided by the Local Enterprise Partnerships for the area. Hertfordshire LEP contributed £0.5m, and Buckinghamshire LEP contributed £1.7m.
About Connected Counties
Connected Counties is a joint project to bring fibre broadband to over 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire by the end of March 2016.