The first phase of the Superfast West Yorkshire has been completed with more than 67,500 households and businesses now able to access fibre broadband speeds as a direct result of the programme.
Since work began in January 2014 hundreds of kilometres of underground fibre optic cable have been laid and 441 new green fibre street cabinets installed in what is one of the largest civil engineering projects undertaken in West Yorkshire in recent years.
Work is already well underway on the second phase of the roll-out which will extendfibre coverage to 98 per cent of the programme area. This additional £13 million investment will bring fibre broadband speeds within reach of 33,000 homes and businesses across West Yorkshire and York by the end of 2018.
Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP),said: "Superfast broadband is no longer a nice to have - it's a must have for businesses looking to perform their day to day activity and accelerate growth into new and existing markets. That is why the rollout of the digital infrastructure is so crucial if we are to support our businesses grow further and faster.
"I am delighted this second phase of the project will mean that by 2018, we will have enabled 100,000 premises across West Yorkshire and York to have access to superfast broadband speeds, including some business parks and industrial centres that urgently need faster broadband speeds.”
Cllr David Green, chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority‘s Investment Committee, added: “Access to superfast broadband speeds is vital to the economy of the North, bringing companies and customers together more quickly, as well as offering people access to a wide range of digital services from streaming video and social media to medical appointments and shopping.
“Thousands of premises in the programme area have already taken advantage of fibre broadband during the first phase of our programme, including many small- and medium-sized businesses. I’m delighted that the additional funding we’ve secured will enable our partners to offer superfast broadband speeds to even more people and businesses, acting as a catalyst to bring in further infrastructure investment.
“I am looking forward to the on-going expansion of the project.”
This second phase of the roll-out will see engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, reaching some of the most challenging and rural locations in the programme area. Rural geographies present many difficulties not faced in more urban areas. Long stretches of narrow, winding roads can create the need for traffic management with engineers often having to build new underground ducts. This vital work will ensure that towns and villages such as Kirkburton, Honley, Flockton and Meltham will be among those upgraded in the coming months.
Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “In just three years the average broadband speed has almost doubled in the five local authority areas of West Yorkshire, with all having now having average speeds of above 24Mbps. There is still more to do and, as well as continuing the roll-out, we are also looking at ways to make existing fibre services go faster and reach further.
“Superfast broadband will help improve access to jobs, allow local companies to compete in the global marketplace, create new opportunities for local people in the way they work, learn and enjoy their leisure time, and help young people make use of educational resources online.”
Nearly 850,000 households and businesses in West Yorkshire now have access to high-speed fibre broadband as a result of Superfast West Yorkshire and BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme. It’s an ‘opt in’ service, but because the Openreach network is ‘open’, residents and businesses wanting to upgrade have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 companies now operating across the UK.
Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Calderdale Council, Kirklees Council, Leeds City Council, Wakefield Council, and York City Council, are working with BT to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 98 per cent of households and businesses across the majority of West Yorkshire and York by the end of 2018.
In total, £34.74 million has been invested in the Superfast West Yorkshire programme. This is made up of Government funding from Broadband Delivery UK and funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), BT and the five West Yorkshire local authorities.
For more information about the project or to find out when superfast broadband will be delivered in your area visit www.get-fibre.co.uk