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Black Country project takes fibre broadband to extra 2,000 premises

Friday, October 16th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Superfast broadband has been made available to more than 2,000 homes and businesses in the Black Country.

Parts of Walsall and Sandwell are among the first areas connected by the Black Country Broadband Project, a £12m programme taking fibre connectivity to 98% of the region by the end of 2017.

More than 468,000 premises – around 92% – can already access superfast speeds thanks to commercial rollouts by providers including BT and Virgin Media.

The Black Country Broadband Project was launched in September 2014 to extend coverage throughout the area.

It is being led by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and BT with support from Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils.

Engineers from BT Openreach have so far installed more than 20 fibre street cabinets – connecting properties across the Black Country in areas including St Matthew’s, south Darlaston, Friar Park, Charlemont, Grove Vale, Hateley Heath, Blackheath, Langley, Rowley, Bristnall, St Paul’s, Tividale, parts of Oldbury, and East Park.

Ninder Johal, chairman of the Black Country Broadband Group, said: “Reaching the 2,000 milestone is an important step in delivering our ambition of a minimum 98% high-speed fibre broadband availability by the end of June 2017.

“High speed fibre broadband will bring a terrific boost to the local economy supporting businesses and individuals to connect to and make the most out of the internet.”

SBS Ltd, a boat trailer manufacturer based in Wolverhampton, has also upgraded to fast fibre broadband thanks to a grant from the Wolverhampton and Black Country Broadband Connectivity Voucher scheme.

'Touching our lives'

Sales director Andy Wyer said: “Everything is so much easier and faster since we upgraded to fibre broadband.

“Connection speeds have increased making web interaction much easier and we are able to back up to the cloud on a daily basis which wasn’t previously possible.”

Work will begin later this year on the second phase of the rollout, which will extend superfast coverage to areas of Brierley Hill, Dudley, James Bridge, Streetly, Tipton and Willenhall.

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “Increasingly the internet is touching our lives in new and exciting ways and transforming virtually everything we do. This is why rolling out faster fibre broadband to more communities is so important.

“Whether people are working from home, applying for jobs, doing online training or running a business, everything is better with high-speed broadband.

“While at home, fibre broadband enables several people to be online at the same time, so children can do their homework or play games, without interfering with mum and dad doing their online shopping, streaming videos or uploading photos.”

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