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DC15-346 Triple boost for Connecting Cumbria high speed broadband programme

Press Release   •   Aug 07, 2015 09:00 BST

TRIPLE BOOST FOR CONNECTING CUMBRIA’S HIGH SPEED BROADBANDPROGRAMME

Additional £2.5 Million Made Available to Connecting Cumbria to Take Fibre Broadband Rollout Even Further

Cumbria’s digital revolution has had a triple boost – a new definitive online map, a multi-million pound investment, and a superfast broadband rollout programme that is reaching across the moors and mountain outposts in the county.

With an average of 3,900 Cumbrian homes and businesses every month being given access to high-speed fibre broadband, the race is on to further boost the number of people opting to upgrade to the new digital service.

Connecting Cumbria, the partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT, has launched a new interactive online map [ www.connectingcumbria.org.uk ] to show when and where the rollout is expected to arrive.This map shows areas included in Phase 1 of the programme that is due to be completed by the end of the year.

BT has also made another £2.5 million available to the partnership, which will allow the rollout of fibre broadband to go even further, because take up of the high-speed technology by local households and businesses is higher than expected.

And thirdly, rollout details just released show that more rural and remote parts of the county have been reached by the new fibre network.The rollout, which started in September 2013, recently reached the following towns, villages and areas:

Silloth

Bassenthwaite

Caldbeck

Kirkby-in-Furness

Langwathby

Hallbankgate

Staveley

Alston

And within the next two weeks Kirkby Thore and Threlkeld will also start to ‘go live’ with fibre.

Connecting Cumbria is running a Digital Inclusion roadshow, with meetings so far attended by up to 80 people, to spell out the benefits of fibre broadband for homes and for businesses and to show them how to sign up with a broadband service provider. See the Connecting Cumbria website for the next planned meetings [ www.connectingcumbria.org.uk ]

The triple boost comes as the Government announced that three UK million homes and businesses now have access to the network as a result of its Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

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 Cumbria on having reached more than 90,000 properties in Cumbria so far and are making incredible progress."

David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “The roll out of superfast broadband across Cumbria literally connects the county to the world and brings us many social and economic benefits. It allows businesses to trade nationally and internationally, people to study, work and learn new skills from the comfort of home, and allows us to keep in touch with friends and relatives at the click of a button. Since 2013 £15.1m of gross value added [GVA] improvements have been reported by businesses against a target of £8.5m. This demonstrates just how important the internet is at generating economic improvement for the region. Our county council-led Connecting Cumbria project to build a fibre network around the county is ahead of schedule.”

Mike Blackburn, BT’s North West Regional Director, said:“Today marks important milestones, both locally and nationally, for the superfast broadband revolution. This exciting technology is transforming the opportunities for communities across Cumbria and the UK as a whole.

“BT’s multi billion pound investment in superfast broadband through its involvement in partnerships, such as Connecting Cumbria, and its own commercial programme has already made fibre broadband available to 77per cent of households and businesses in Cumbria– and the number is continuing to grow rapidly.Engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, are rolling out the technology at a world class pace, reaching almost 4,000 more premises every month.

“Successful broadband partnerships are creating a lasting legacy, which will play a key role in the future prosperity of communities for many years to come.We’re delighted to be making £2.5 million available to roll-out fibre broadband even further, earlier than planned and at no extra cost to the taxpayer.”

This first phase, totalling a £51 million investment, has so far seen two thirds of connections deliver more than 50Mbps and many are capable of speeds up to 80Mbps. Combined with the work of the private sector’s commercial fibre broadband rollout, this means that more than 76% of Cumbrian premises now have access to superfast speeds connecting Cumbrians to opportunities for work, services and education globally.

Also for further information please contact Gareth Cosslett Cumbria Direct line: 01228 226337 at Cumbria County Council on or Graham Taylor at the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be found at www.btplc.com/news

Notes to Editors

About Connecting Cumbria

The Connecting Cumbria Programme’s ambition will, by a combination of commercial investment and gap funding, enable access to Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband to 93% of Cumbrian homes and businesses by the end of 2015 when added to the commercial rollout.And Connecting Cumbria is providing two thirds of its rollout with speeds of more than 50 mbps.There is, in addition, a commitment that all Cumbrian properties will have access to speeds of at least 2Mbps by some means by the end of the programme. This includes working with some of Cumbria’s remotest communities to extend the fibre network through innovative community projects in the hardest to reach areas.

Connecting Cumbria will ensure maximum coverage is achieved from available resources, demonstrating maximum value for money. Cumbria County Council has a continuing commitment to expand NGA broadband services and make NGA broadband service available to additional areas across Cumbria as funding becomes available.

About ERDF

The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the ERDF 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 https://www.gov.uk/erdf-programmes-progress-and-achievements

About BDUK

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment 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 is comprised of three elements:

  • £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% 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 basic 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 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 more than 170 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. BT consists principally of five customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2015, BT Group’s reported revenue was £17,979mwith reported profit before taxation of £2,645m.

    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.