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Demand for high-speed fibre broadband climbs to new peaks with Connecting Cumbria

Press Release   •   Aug 01, 2017 11:00 BST

Cote Farm, Howtown. Copyright Andrew Leaney.

The number of people connecting to high-speed broadband in Cumbria has reached a new milestone thanks to the work of Connecting Cumbria. Connecting Cumbria – a multi-million pound partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT – has made fibre-optic broadband technology available to more than 122,000 homes and businesses across the county. The fibre network is being installed by Openreach, the local network business which is part of BT Group.

And figures announced today show the average number of homeowners and businesses choosing faster fibre connections in the Connecting Cumbria area has jumped from less than 30 per cent last year to 40 per cent.

One business that is over the moon with the arrival of high-speed broadband is Silverlink Clinics, which has properties across the North, including a clinic in Carleton, Carlisle. The business helps people to lose weight with non-surgical therapy, together with skin tightening and body shaping.

Chris Matthews, founder and chief executive officer of the clinics, said: “With our high-speed fibre connection we’re now able to operate a site-to-site Virtual Private Network (VPN) service between our clinics which has improved security and privacy when sharing data. The better connectivity also allows us to operate an internet based phone service between our clinics, saving us money.

“Our website and social media pages rely heavily on client testimonial videos to promote the services which we offer. Prior to our upgrade, the upload of these videos was time consuming and unreliable, now uploads are fast and without error.

“We are now also able to offer a wi-fi service to our patients. Being able to offer a fast and reliable wi-fi connection is a definite advantage to our business.”

In Howtown, Ullswater, the Jones family living at Cote Farm have seen a 90 fold increase in broadband speeds from their previously slow connection of around 0.5 megabits per second (Mbps).

Explaining what a difference it has made to their online lives, Gill Jones said: “Living in the middle of nowhere it’s cheaper to get food shopping delivered than drive to the nearest supermarket but, before fibre broadband, whether I would end up ordering the right things was very hit and miss!

“As I was doing the shopping everything would start freezing on screen and I would end up pressing the button several times thinking nothing was happening. One time I ended up with six bags of radishes instead of one! Now we’re getting around 45 Mbps and everything is so much quicker and more reliable.

“My eldest son is at university and is into online gaming. Quite often he didn’t want to come home due to the slow speeds we were getting. Now we’re all looking forward to watching online TV together.”

Gill has also found online admin tasks at the farm, like registering calves’ births, much easier with high-speed broadband.

David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “Fibre broadband is transforming the lives of people in Cumbria. So much we do these days relies on a fast internet connection whether we’re at home or at work.

“And demand for better, faster broadband in Cumbria is clear – with so many homes and businesses continuing to sign-up to use the new technology installed as part of the Connecting Cumbria programme. To check availability in your area visit www.connectingcumbria.org.uk

Mike Blackburn, chairman of BT’s North West regional board, said: “We are delighted the rollout in Cumbria is proving to be so popular. It’s great to see the benefits of all the hard work of the programme coming to life through the number of people who are now taking advantage of the high speeds. The technology really does have the ability to transform the way people use the internet and make home and work lives much easier.”

Steve Haines, managing director of next generation access for Openreach, the local network business which is delivering the broadband infrastructure, said: “Cumbria has some tricky terrain to work across but we continue to overcome obstacles to go as far as we can. Around 91 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses can now order fibre broadband thanks to our investment and the Connecting Cumbria partnership and that figure is increasing every day.”

All of the engineering work as part of Connecting Cumbria is being carried out by Openreach, which offers an open wholesale network. This means residents and businesses can order fibre broadband services from a wide range of internet service providers and benefit from competitive pricing and products.

When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to contact their service provider to upgrade as it doesn’t happen automatically.

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Press contact:Please contact Janet Hare in 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

Since October 2013, the Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT - has enabled more than 600 fibre broadband cabinets, with more being switched on every day. More than 122,000 households and businesses now have access to fibre as a result of the project.

The Connecting Cumbria Programme’s ambition will, by a combination of commercial investment and gap funding made available to us, enable access to Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband to 95 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses when added to the private sector’s 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. In the majority of cases this is already available or will shortly be made available via the deployment of fibre services however where properties cannot yet access this basic level of broadband services there are subsides available through the Broadband Delivery UK Better Broadband Scheme to support access to services using alternative technology – details of this scheme can be found on the Connecting Cumbria website.

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 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 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.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2017, BT Group’s reported revenue was £24,062m with reported profit before taxation of £2,354m.

    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

    About Openreach

    Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.

    We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses - large and small - to the world.

    Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

    We work on behalf of more than 580 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 26.5 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.

    We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 158 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

    Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom.

    Any company can access our products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

    For the year ended 31 March 2017, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

    For more information, visit openreach.co.uk