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George Osborne MP praises pioneering superfast broadband partnership for ancient Cheshire village

Press Release   •   Nov 07, 2016 11:40 GMT

The Rt Hon George Osborne MP with Ollerton residents and Tony Morgan, BT's contract director (far right). Photo courtesy of the Knutsford Guardian.

First community to benefit from Government subsidy scheme

A pioneering partnership between Ollerton residents and Openreach, BT’s local network business, is to make superfast fibre broadband available to around 65 houses in the rural community around School Lane.

Openreach will install new fibre optic cabling and a new green road-side cabinet equipped with the latest Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology. Superfast speeds of more than 24Mbps will be available for the first time to the community from a wide range of broadband service providers. The community partnership is the first to benefit from funding through the Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme and will see local residents get the high-speed service next year.

The Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme allows households with internet speeds of less than 2Mbps, who are not included in any current programme to rollout high-speed fibre broadband, to get funding for better broadband using any technology. Ollerton residents were awarded £350 per eligible household towards a new fibre broadband network.

The entire cost of bringing fibre broadband technology to residents in and around School Lane has been covered by the scheme and Openreach’s investment.

The Rt Hon George Osborne MP for Tatton, said: “As your local MP, I fight for every community here in Cheshire - no matter how large or small. I've been working hard with local residents in Ollerton and BT to find a way to get superfast broadband to the village. That's because this broadband is essential to modern life - and I don't want Cheshire to miss out. Far from Ollerton missing out, it has become the very first village in the country to benefit from this new national scheme that the government I was part of set up. That's great news and I hope it's just a start in connecting up the most rural parts of Cheshire.”

David Malkinson, who set up Connecting Ollerton, the local community group to campaign for faster broadband, said: “As we progress more towards an online world, the absence of a fast internet connection is felt more every year.More and more young professional families are coming to the area, many of whom regularly work from home.Our existing connection just doesn’t work for what most people need.

“Broadband is really a fourth utility service, and the benefits of the upgraded service are far bigger than perhaps many people realise. This really future proofs the community, and I’m very excited to see this service going live next year.”

Minister of State for Digital and Culture, Matt Hancock said: "Ninety per cent of the UK can now get superfast broadband, but we know that more needs to be done. Our Better Broadband scheme was designed to provide immediate assistance to those places in the UK with the slowest broadband speeds. Allowing neighbouring homes and businesses to pool their grants means that places like School Lane can get a rapid boost in broadband speeds and start enjoying all the benefits that a fast connection offers."

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for next generation access, said: “We have been working closely with the people of Ollerton and the Government to agree this new funding solution to bring superfast fibre to the local community and it’s fabulous news that the contract has now been signed. This is a significant first for our Community Fibre programme and we’re keen to have conversations with other communities who might be able to benefit from this approach.”

Kim Mears, Openreach’s managing director for infrastructure delivery, said: “We know the impact broadband has on our lives, and it’s great to be able to work together with communities like Ollerton to find a fibre broadband solution. We’re working closely with hundreds of similar communities on our community fibre partnership programmes across the UK, which are bringing faster fibre internet access to even more homes and local businesses. Openreach is committed to making fibre broadband as widely available as possible in the UK to allow families and businesses to do even more online.”

Unlike some other companies, Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, which underpins a competitive market and delivers real customer choice.

For more information on community fibre partnerships with BT and the Government’s Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme, visit www.communityfibre.bt.com

Ends

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Notes to editors

About Openreach

Openreach is responsible for the last mile of the UK access network – the copper wires and fibre connecting homes and businesses to their local telephone exchanges. Openreach provides communications providers with services and products associated with that network.

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 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