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Connecting Cheshire races ahead to major superfast broadband milestone for local communities

Press Release   •   May 24, 2016 14:40 BST

Left to right: Councillor Barry Moran, ward member for Sandbach Town, Jenny Westwood, Connecting Cheshire Team, Councillor Mike Benson Sandbach Town Council and Tony Morgan Contract Director BT Group

Connecting Cheshire has reached a major milestone in its delivery of high-speed fibre broadband to communities across the county.

The multi-million-pound partnership has just installed its landmark 500thfibre broadband cabinet.

It is the seventh to be installed in Sandbach. It means that more than 690 homes and businesses in the market town can now access the high-speed network – thanks to the programme backed by local authorities, including Cheshire East Council, and BT.

Demand for fibre broadband has been really strong, with around 30,000 homes and businesses taking up the service so far in the Connecting Cheshire area, with more orders being placed every day. This means Connecting Cheshire has one of the highest take up rates in the UK.

To date, the programme has brought fibre broadband within reach of 85,000 homes and businesses in Cheshire and, when combined with BT’s commercial roll-out of the new technology, more than 96 per cent of homes and businesses across the historic county are now able to access fibre broadband.

One Sandbach business already benefitting from the fast speeds is award-winning cake company, Lois’s Little Cake Company.

Owner Debbie Fenton said: “Having superfast broadband at my new shop in Sandbach has made a big difference. I can now manage our website and social media much more easily and offer customers free wi-fi too – so faster broadband really is the icing on the cake!”

Councillor Peter Groves, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member for finance and assets, said: “Reaching this milestone of 500 cabinets has been a tremendous achievement for the Connecting Cheshire project.

“Coupled with the strong take-up by consumers, it demonstrates that many more homes and businesses are now benefiting from faster broadband across every aspect of their lives, not only for work, but also education, training and entertainment.”

Mike Blackburn, BT North West regional director, said: “High-speed fibre broadband helps to ensure that businesses thrive and don’t just survive and helps keep communities connected. Whatever you do online you can do it better with fibre broadband.

“Across Cheshire, BT has made fibre available to tens of thousands of local households and businesses through its own commercial programme and its investment in Connecting Cheshire.

“The highly successful Connecting Cheshire partnership has worked very hard to reach this significant milestone today and continues to make strong progress.”

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

Connection to fibre broadband does not happen automatically and people must contact their service provider (there are more than 140 of them offering fibre broadband services across the UK) to place an order.

The Connecting Cheshire project was launched in April 2013 and is a partnership of four councils – Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton and Warrington – and BT.

Its first phase, £28.5m roll-out has been funded by £13.6m from the European Development Fund, £9m from BT, £4m from BDUK with £1.85m provided jointly from the councils. A £6m phase two project will reach a further 10,000 premises by summer 2017.

ENDS

Photo Caption:

Left to right:

Councillor Barry Moran, ward member for Sandbach Town, Jenny Westwood, Connecting Cheshire Team, Councillor Mike Benson Sandbach Town Council and Tony Morgan Contract Director BT Group.

Notes to Editors:

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. Its Phase 1 £28.5m roll-out has been funded by £13.6m from the European Development Fund, £9m from BT, £4m from BDUK with £1.85m provided jointly from the councils. A £6m Phase 2 project will reach a further 10,000 premises by summer 2017.

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

About BT

BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.With effect from 1 April 2016, the group has been reorganised and the customer-facing lines of business are now: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

For more information, visit www.btplc.com