Cambridgeshire is celebrating being a leading digital county with the high-speed fibre broadband roll-out programme reaching close to 100,000 homes and businesses that could not get it before.
Take-up of fibre broadband is among the highest in the country at nearly 30% with faster connections changing people’s lifestyles and helping to drive the local economy.
The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, led by Cambridgeshire County Council, has successfully completed the multi-million million first phase of the roll-out of high speed fibre broadband and has announced further plans to ensure no community misses out.
The partnership of local councils is working with BT, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, universities and business partners to achieve its aim of becoming the best connected county in the country.
The rapid paced roll-out means almost a third of the county’s homes and businesses that would otherwise not have had access to fibre broadband - more than 97,000 - can now upgrade to the high-speed technology with another 6,000 to come in further roll-out phases from spring 2016.
Combined with the private sector’s commercial roll-out this means that over 93% of households and businesses across the county can already get fibre broadband and the programme is on track to reach at least 95% by the end of 2017.
The next two years will see the programme reaching some of the most challenging rural areas of the county with other technologies, such as wireless and satellite, being used for the remainder by 2020.
The milestone is being marked with a celebration event on Friday 22 January at Shire Hall, Cambridge, bringing together council leaders, MPs, programme partners, technology and business leaders, together with community and small business champions, who have contributed to the partnership programme’s success.
County Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee, which leads the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said:
“We have come a long way since the County Council took the bold decision to invest in superfast broadband along with Peterborough City Council and awarded the contract to BT in March 2012. We live in a digital world and it’s vital that our businesses and communities have the connections they need to compete and thrive.
“We’re already a leading digital county with some of the biggest technology clusters in the country in Cambridge and Peterborough and we want to continue to be at the forefront of innovation to underpin growth and jobs.”
The programme has complemented the private sector’s commercial rollout of fibre broadband in Cambridgeshire by BT and Virgin. Overall, it is estimated more than 300,000 households and businesses can now order fibre based broadband. The average broadband speed in the county has doubled in just three years, according to the regulator Ofcom.
Dave Hughes, East of England Regional Director for BT, said: “These are exciting times for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The multi-million pound rollout of superfast fibre broadband is making a huge difference to the lives of people throughout the county.
“The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together. 2016 will see the programme continuing at a rapid pace, reaching areas which pose some of the greatest geographical and technical challenges in the county.”
The fibre network is open to all broadband service providers on an equivalent basis, which means households and businesses can upgrade to a fibre broadband package of their choice.
People can find out if they can get fibre broadband atwww.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk