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Connecting Cheshire Fibre broadband programme reaches 80,000 properties across Cheshire

Press Release   •   Aug 13, 2015 10:23 BST

Government Minister praises “incredible progress” of the project

The Connecting Cheshire programme has reached a major milestone by ensuring more than 80,000 homes and businesses have access to high-speed fibre broadband.

Six more Cheshire East parishes have recently gone live and the £6m phase two programme will see a further 10,000 properties able to connect by summer 2017.

Prestbury, Smallwood, Bunbury, Faddiley, Marton Heath and Wistaston have now joined the high-speed club as Connecting Cheshire passes its original 80,000 connections target, ending the frustration many customers experience with slow broadband speeds.

The news from Connecting Cheshire follows the Government announcement that its nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now passed more than three million UK homes and businesses. The rollout is on track to reach 95 per cent of the UK by 2017 and is now reaching around 5,000 additional premises every day.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “We are transforming the digital landscape of the UK and our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now reached an additional three million UK homes and businesses. I congratulate Connecting Cheshire on having reached this milestone in Cheshire so far – they’re making incredible progress.”

Leader of Cheshire East Council, Cllr Michael Jones said: “This additional broadband coverage we have brought to the region, is already making a big impact and helping to keep Cheshire businesses competitive.

“More coverage is coming soon in our phase two roll-out so that we can reach even more premises, especially those in our outlying, rural areas.”

Mike Blackburn, BT regional director for the North West, said: “I am delighted that we have hit the original target of providing fibre broadband to 80,000 homes and business premises across Cheshire.

“We are continuing with the roll-out so that many more users can access the benefits that high speed broadband can deliver to homes, families and the business community.

“BT’s multi-billion pound investment in superfast broadband through its partnerships, including Connecting Cheshire, and its own commercial programme has already made fibre broadband available to more than 23 million homes and businesses nationwide and the number is continuing to grow rapidly. Our engineers are rolling out the technology at a world class pace, reaching thousands more premises every week.”

Connecting Cheshire is one of many partnerships across the country that are rolling out high-speed broadband to communities not included in the private sector’s commercial fibre broadband plans.

High speed broadband users in Cheshire can achieve download speeds of up to 80 megabits and upload speeds of up to 20 Mbps.*

One of those already reaping the rewards is Bongo’s Rock & Roll Pickles, from Norley in Cheshire, who make chilli pickles and chilli condiments. The business was founded by Bongo, AKA Manny Elias, a drummer who was an original member of Tears for Fears and who has toured and recorded with Dolly Parton, Peter Gabriel and Julian Lennon among others.

The business was able to upgrade to fibre broadband in February 2015, resulting in a 30 fold increase in speed, and also benefitted from a package of support from the Superfast Business Programme.

Bongo’s wife Debs, who was instrumental in setting up the business, said: “Slow broadband was holding the business back and turning us into internet monsters! With less than 1Mbps download speeds we were rarely able to update the website or make much use of social media. Since getting fibre, we’ve been able to establish an e-commerce shop on the website and developed a good social media presence with blogs, videos and customer reviews. This is really helping us grow the business.”

The £28.5m partnership between four Cheshire councils, BT, the Government and the European Regional Development Fund was launched in April 2013. When the Connecting Cheshire figures are combined with the commercial rollout by BT and other broadband providers, 96 per cent of the county will be able to benefit from fibre by the end of this year.

To check availability in your area you can visit the Connecting Cheshire website and enter a postcode or a telephone number - http://www.connectingcheshire.org.uk/check-availability

Ends

Enquiries about this news release should be made to the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660 All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.btplc.com/News

Photos:

Recent switch-on events held in Faddiley

Debs Elias of Bongos Rock and Roll Pickles

Notes to Editors:

* These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

About Superfast Britain

Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:

● £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017;

● £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities;

● £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and data network services.

Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life. For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About Connecting Cheshire

The Connecting Cheshire project was launched in April 2013, and is a partnership of four councils – Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington – and BT. It is funded by £13.6m from the European Development Fund, £9m from BT, £4m from BDUK with £1.85m provided jointly from the councils.

The £28.5m project will provide fibre broadband to more than 80,000 homes and businesses. This builds on BT’s commercial investment so that 96 percent of Cheshire –around 400,000 premises – will have access to speeds of up to 80mbps by the end of 2015.

The project will reach those areas outside of any commercial broadband roll-out using a partnership approach to ensure all communities have access to the fastest possible broadband speeds. For more information visit www.connectingcheshire.org.uk

*About ERDF

The project is part financed by the North West Competitiveness Programme, European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.gov.uk/erdf-programmes-progress-and-achievements