A multi-million pound boost to the current Superfast Worcestershire programme will see more than 8,000 additional homes and businesses able to access high-speed fibre broadband by Summer 2018.
The additional funding will extend the reach of the existing Superfast Worcestershire partnership programme between Worcestershire County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), which began making faster fibre broadband connections available to the first homes and businesses last May.
The extension is as a result of additional investment by the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government’s Growth Deal, BDUK, and BT. Work on the new network upgrades will begin next year and be completed by Summer 2018.
Following agreement at Worcestershire County Council’s February Cabinet meeting to appoint a preferred partner and supplier for the delivery of the extension programme, BT has now been appointed to further extend the Superfast Worcestershire network across the county.
More than 22,000 premises are already able to sign up to the high-speed technology out of the 55,000 planned in the first phase of the Superfast Worcestershire programme, which will finish at the end of June 2016.
When the extension programme is complete it will increase the percentage of homes and businesses able to access fibre-based broadband in Worcestershire to more than 95 per cent when the private sector’s commercial roll-out of the technology is also included; with 94 per cent of all premises across the county able to access superfast speeds of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) and above.
The total amount of funding available for the extension to the programme is £6.2 million, comprising £2.39 million grant funding each from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund and the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government’s Growth Deal, and £1.42 million from BT.
Residents and businesses choosing to sign up to the new improved network will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps*. Because the network being built by BT’s local network business, Openreach, is ‘open’, people will be able to choose from a wide range of broadband service providers, with more than 140 fibre broadband providers currently operating in the UK.
The extension to the programme will bring additional fibre broadband coverage to each of the six districts in the county. The anticipated deployment plan includes parts of the areas of: Trimpley and Rowney Green, the Lenches and new areas around the Teme Valley as well as parts of Beckford. A map is now available at www.superfastworcestershire.org.uk showing the full anticipated coverage across the county. Local residents and businesses will be able to sign up for the latest programme updates and follow progress via the Superfast Worcestershire website, including an updated ‘postcode checker’ that will be made available in coming weeks.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Our rollout of superfast broadband in Worcestershire is proceeding at pace and we’re on track to take coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017. Already an additional 22,000 homes and businesses in Worcestershire can now access superfast speeds as a result of our work, and I’m delighted that this additional investment means our project will now reach another 8,000 properties.”
Sander Kristel, Director of Commercial and Change at Worcestershire County Council, said: “We know that local demand for improved broadband speeds is high. The extension programme will further improve fibre broadband speeds and increase the reach of our coverage. This is great news for residents and businesses. As well as driving business growth, fibre broadband offers new online learning and entertainment opportunities for households. The technology will also support our Digital Council transformation over the next decade.”
Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for broadband partnerships, said: “This is another important chapter in the development of Worcestershire. Increasingly, the internet is touching our lives in new and innovative ways, whether it’s people working from home or families wanting to connect lots of different devices at the same time – everything is better with high-speed fibre broadband, which is why our project teams are committed to bringing the benefits of this technology to as many communities as possible, as quickly as possible.”
Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is great news that contracts are being signed today so that work can continue at pace to build on the Superfast Worcestershire programme and bring access to Superfast Broadband to around 94 per cent of homes and business premises by 2018. We know how important this technology is locally and in ensuring that Worcestershire continues to be a world class place to do business. I would encourage people to register for updates so you can upgrade at the earliest opportunity as you do need to upgrade to benefit from the high speeds.”