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Get digital faster programme now more than half completed with 30,000 premises passed with fibre broadband

Press Release   •   Aug 12, 2015 14:51 BST

A total of 30,000 homes and businesses across Greater Manchester can now benefit from high-speed fibre broadband rolled out by the £15 million Get Digital Faster programme.

The programme is now sixty per cent complete since the rollout began a year ago with the first fibre enabled green roadside cabinet going live in Oldham.

Since then, a total of 357 cabinets have been built and connected to the new network with the laying of more than 370km of new fibre optic cable.

The project is on track to complete by March 2017 when more than 600 cabinets will have been built – bringing high speed broadband to an extra 50,000 homes and businesses across the region.

Councillor Sue Derbyshire, Leader of Stockport Council, lead local authority for the project in Greater Manchester, said: “It’s fantastic news that more and more homes and businesses are taking advantage of high-speed fibre broadband in our region.

“The Get Digital Faster programme is making great progress. It is enabling more people and organisations to benefit from fast and reliable speeds and be a part of something that will help stimulate economic growth and support innovation in Greater Manchester.”

The latest news comes on the same day as the Government announced that the nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now passed more than three million UK homes and businesses. The Government 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 landscape of the UK and our nationwide rollout of superfast broadband has now reached and additional three million homes and businesses. I congratulate Get Digital Faster on having reached this milestone in Greater Manchester so far – they’re making incredible progress.”

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

“BT’s multi million pound investment in superfast broadband through its involvement in partnerships, such as Get Digital Faster, and its own commercial programme has already made fibre broadband available to 895,000 households and businesses in Greater Manchester – 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.

“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.”

Residents and businesses are seeing the benefits of download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps*.

One of those already reaping the rewards is Paul Frazer, managing director of Heron Marketing Services Ltd, based in Wigan, who told how fibre had enabled them to slash costs and take on new clients from around the world. Paul said: “Fibre broadband has already revolutionised the way we work. It allows us to effortlessly move large artwork files to our clients and suppliers; previously this was a slow and unreliable process, now it's quick and easy.

“We’re now also able to conduct business over the internet with our clients using Skype. It means we can cover the same agenda, but save on travel costs as well as time. For example, we regularly meet online with a client in Australia; there are no geographical barriers.’’

Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, more quickly than ever before. The benefits of faster broadband speeds for businesses are considerable and include faster file and data transfers, better access to cloud computing services and software, more sophisticated web-based contact with customers and support for more flexible working.

The increased speeds are also of great value to families. Everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. It will also improve access to new job opportunities, and make it easier to shop around for services.

Funding for the Get Digital Faster programme comprises £4.9 million from The North West European Regional Development Fund, £4.6 million from BT, £3 million is from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative and local councils (Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan) £2.5 million.The programme is being delivered by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and BT on behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

The programme also links into a Business Growth Hub**, which along with local councils will provide businesses with the skills and expertise, making the most of the opportunities a sophisticated broadband network will provide. The Growth Hub also offer bespoke support through the national Women & Broadband project.

Work on the Get Digital Faster project continues apace across the region.Engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, will lay around 400 kilometres of optical fibre cable – the equivalent of twice around the Greater Manchester boundary - and install more 600 new fibre broadband cabinets throughout the area. It is estimated that 150 people involved in delivery will complete more than 500,000 staff hours of work planning and building the network during the lifetime of the project.

The Openreach network is open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis.When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to opt for an upgrade from a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.

Residents or businesses can find out more about Get Digital Faster at www.get-digital.info

ENDS

Press contacts:For further information please contact the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660 or Stockport Council Communications Team at communications@stockport.gov.uk.

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

Notes to Editors:

Heron Marketing information is available at www.heronmarketing.co.uk. Phone: 01942 246306.

1.**The Get Digital Faster project is part financed by the North West 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

https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/funding-debt/european-regional-development-funding

2. Established in 2011 the Business Growth Hub has helped thousands of businesses across Greater Manchester, from established and large companies to start-ups and SME enterprises. Accountable to the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, the Business Growth Hub’s challenge is to ensure that companies across Greater Manchester reach their full potential and are able to access the right support and services to meet their needs.