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Worcestershire council signs £20 million deal to bring superfast broadband to nearly 55,000 rural homes and businesses

Press Release   •   Aug 05, 2013 00:00 BST

Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, welcomes development 
High-speed fibre broadband will be rolled out to more than 90 per cent of Worcestershire homes and businesses within the next three years, as a result of a multi-million pound ‘Superfast Worcestershire’ partnership project between Worcestershire County Council and BT. 

It builds on BT’s on-going commercial fibre rollout which will reach more than 176,000 premises across the county by the end of Spring 2014. 

‘Superfast Worcestershire’ will provide a next generation broadband network during 2014, 2015 and beyond. 

This includes an aim to provide high-speed access to 90 per cent of the county’s businesses in support of the County Council’s ‘Open for Business’ initiative. 

The network will transform broadband speeds across Worcestershire, especially its rural areas. 

Worcestershire County Council is contributing up to £8.5 million, with an additional £3.35 million coming from the from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds. BT is also contributing £8.9 million towards the overall cost of the Superfast Worcestershire deployment, having been chosen following an extensive and thorough selection process. 

Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, said: “This fantastic news marks the beginning of a remarkable transformation of broadband in Worcestershire and will result in at least 90 per cent of homes and businesses able to access superfast speeds. 

“The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and widespread access to superfast broadband will provide a tremendous boost to the Worcestershire local economy.” 

Councillor Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills and Infrastructure, said: “This investment is vital to our county’s future economy, as increased broadband speeds will support and boost the competitiveness of our local businesses, keep skills and job prospects local and provide yet another reason for businesses to come to Worcestershire. I am delighted to be signing contracts today.” 

Councillor John Campion, Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transformation and Commissioning, added: “This broadband infrastructure will bring great benefits for businesses and for local people of all ages as faster broadband speeds are essential to access technology developments. From accessing services and learning opportunities online to assistive technology for older people and supporting homeworking, this investment really will make a difference to local people’s daily lives.” 

Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of Next Generation Access, said: “This is fantastic news for the people of Worcestershire. Fibre broadband will bring the rest of the digital world right to the doorsteps of homes and businesses across the county. “Ninety-six per cent of local businesses who responded to a recent County Council survey said faster broadband would help them grow their business in the next few years. 

“Faster broadband will also help to attract inward investment and boost the local economy. If local businesses thrive then everyone thrives – local businesses 
are the lifeblood of every community, creating jobs and stimulating growth.” 

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. 

Further benefits of faster broadband include users being able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time, for example, a family within one household, 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 online. It will also open up a host of new learning and development opportunities. 

Engineers for Openreach, BT’s local network business, will build the new fibre infrastructure. Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. 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 deployed in certain areas and will become available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint should local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers*. 

The new fibre network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis**. Households and businesses in Worcestershire 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. 

Notes to editors: 

*80Mbps and 330Mbps are wholesale speeds. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP. 
Openreach has started to make FTTP on demand available in its fibre footprint. Openreach will levy an installation charge but it will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that onto businesses or consumers wishing to take advantage of the product. 

** Wholesale access means that BT must make its broadband infrastructure available to Internet Service Providers who can market a range of competitive packages to customers. 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. 

Case Study of a Worcestershire business already using fibre broadband 
Traplet Publications Ltd Contact: Tony Stephenson, managing director (01684 588500 or 07836 665454) Location: Traplet House, Pendragon Close, Malvern, WR14 1GA, UK and www.traplet.com International offices: United States, Australia and South Africa. 
With thousands of products devoted to ensuring hobby and craft enthusiasts get the very best from their hobby, Traplet Publications is a world leader in its field. It publishes a wide range of magazines, books, DVDs, plans, parts and wood packs and clothing. Still very much a family business, Traplet Publications continues to expand into new markets and ventures with the launch of a dedicated modelling magazine for the growing South African market, as well as an embroidery service and clothing range. 
Operational benefits since using faster broadband: 
• Traplet prepares hundreds of magazines for paper and digital publishing, every year. Uploading print files to printers and digital publishers used to take literally hours and was a limiter on the amount of publishing possible. Fibre broadband with its much faster upload speeds means that a magazine, with increasing amounts of artwork, can be uploaded in just a few minutes, increasing the efficiency of the business significantly. 
• Fibre broadband has allowed the adoption of cloud services. By using services such as Google docs, a degree of standardisation has been achieved across all country locations which allows for a much more effective sharing of information across all four offices. A single coherent web presence allows the company to compete on a more equal basis with other larger companies in the same sector. 
• Easy access to video conferencing services such as Skype has allowed all offices across the world easier access to each other, both people and premises. This has contributed greatly to a team ethos across the company and allows teams to be quickly built to respond to market opportunities. 
• Customer service has improved with, for example, the effective collection of feedback from customers, in a universal format, that can be aggregated to spot opportunities to improve response to customer needs and perceptions of Traplet. 

About Worcestershire 

The Government desires that the broadband framework in the UK is upgraded to provide the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015. 

Worcestershire County Council is leading ‘Superfast Worcestershire’ through local taxpayer investment and funds available from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a team within the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). 

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is responsible for managing the Government’s broadband funding. BDUK has developed a procurement framework and Worcestershire County Council have undertaken the procurement of the supplier through this framework. More information is available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website. 

The partnership has had to comply with stringent European Commission State Aid regulations to use public money to fund the commercial market place to provide superfast broadband services. 

www.worcestershire.gov.uk/broadband