Major investment will build the area’s reputation as “a great place to live and do business”;
Redcar, Norton and Darlington included in BT’s roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband
BT today announced a major expansion of high-speed fibre broadband in the Tees Valley area, which is expected to help create jobs and give a big boost to the local economy.
A further 58,000 homes and businesses are to be included in BT’s £2.5 billion commercial roll-out of fibre broadband in the UK.
The three latest communities to benefit – Redcar, Norton, which covers parts of Billingham, and Darlington – will be upgraded by the end of Spring 2014.
Local Enterprise Partnership, Tees Valley Unlimited and Darlington Borough Council both welcomed the investment and said it would help to build confidence of an economic recovery among local households and businesses.
It will take the total number of premises with access to fibre broadband in the area to more than 146,000. More than 88,000 are already able to get the service in Eaglescliffe, Hartburn, Ingleby Barwick, Hartlepool, Linthorpe, Marton and Guisborough - and BT is keen to bring more communities within reach by working with the public sector.
Farooq Hakim, BT’s North East regional director, said: “This latest investment is a major vote of confidence in the future success of this area. It will be a key part of our economic revival as we finally shrug off the effects of the downturn and create a better, more prosperous future.
“Fast, sophisticated communications are the cornerstone of a successful community, helping local people to build their skills and knowledge and encouraging the creation of new businesses and jobs. This exciting technology will transform on-line education, training and leisure for households and enhance the competitiveness of local firms.
“BT has now announced plans to make fibre broadband available to more than 146,000 homes and businesses in the area. Reaching that target will be a substantial achievement, but we want to go much further by working with the public sector to bring this exciting technology to more challenging areas.”
Stephen Catchpole, managing director of Local Enterprise Partnership,
Tees Valley Unlimited, said: “This is very welcome news for the start of 2013 - local businesses and households will be greatly encouraged by such a major investment, which shows we are making good progress in the partnership work that is strengthening our local economy.
“High-speed communications are essential in order to succeed in an ever more competitive and connected world and today’s announcement helps to reinforce Tees Valley’s credentials as a great place to live and do business.”
BT’s local network business, Openreach, will be making fibre broadband available to two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of Spring 2014. The roll-out uses a mix of fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP) technologies. More than 13 million UK premises can already access fibre broadband and this figure is increasing by around 100,000 every week.
Both technologies offer speeds many times faster than the current UK average, reported by the regulator Ofcom to be 9Mbps. FTTC, where fibre is delivered to new street cabinets, offers download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps 1.
FTTP, where fibre runs all the way to homes and businesses, offers a variety of download speeds with the current top speed being 330Mbps1. From Spring 2013 BT aims to make speeds of 330Mbps2 available on demand in any area where FTTC has been deployed 2.
BT’s network is available on an open, wholesale basis to all companies providing broadband services so local households and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.
Councillor Chris McEwan, Darlington Borough Council's cabinet member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “I am delighted that BT has responded positively to the dialogue I have had with them and is to upgrade the Darlington Exchange to enable the rollout of superfast broadband in Darlington.
“Through the development of the Borough’s economic strategy, local businesses have made it clear that access to affordable, reliable, superfast broadband is essential for them to remain competitive and develop their business. This news puts in place an essential building block for many aspects of our strategy from which we can drive forward with our aims.
“A strong infrastructure, including fast broadband that meets the demands of modern business, is essential if the Borough is to continue to prosper. We are happy to work with BT to ensure this is delivered across the Borough.”
Internet users with a fibre broadband connection can do much more online, all at the same time. A family can download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the net and play games online simultaneously. 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.
The upload speeds are the fastest widely available to consumers in the UK, with large video and data files being sent almost instantly and hi-resolution photos posted online in seconds. And high quality voice and video calls mean businesses can keep in touch with customers while they cut down on travel.
For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit www.superfast-openreach.co.uk
North East locations included in today’s announcement: Darlington, Easington, Ebchester, Norton, Wellfield, Dunston, Whickham, Seaton Delaval, Redcar, Birtley, Barnard Castle and Beamish
Notes to editors
1 These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
2 Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that onto businesses or consumers wishing to take advantage of the product.
Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within the selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Alternative solutions for these locations are being investigated.