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Cambridgeshire broadband project gets multi-million pound boost

Wednesday, March 9th 2016 by Hannah Langston

Cambridgeshire’s superfast broadband programme has received a £5.3million cash injection to help roll out fibre technology to more homes and businesses.

Take-up of fibre broadband in the county is among the highest in the UK. On average, 30% of residents are subscribing to the service, with some rural villages exceeding 70%.

The success of the programme so far has triggered a £5.3 million contractual gainshare offer from BT to invest in extending the network.

Plans to use the additional funding to bring fibre broadband to some of the most challenging areas of the county by 2020 were approved earlier this week by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee.

Over 100,000 homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough can now access fibre broadband as a result of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme – a partnership of local councils working with BT and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme to bring faster broadband to the region.

Connecting Cambridgeshire is currently in the second phase of the project and is working with BT to take superfast coverage to 95% of premises (when combined with the commercial sector’s network rollout) over the next two years.

The third phase of the rollout will focus on making fibre broadband available to as many premises as possible within the ‘final 5%’ by 2020. Other technologies, such as wireless and satellite, may also be used to reach the remainder of premises in harder-to-reach areas.

'Fill the gaps'

Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the Economy and Environment Committee, said: “The Connecting Cambridgeshire broadband rollout has covered almost a third of our homes and businesses, but we know there is still more to do to fill the gaps and make sure no community misses out.

“We’ve seen some of the highest take-up in the country, particularly in rural villages, and I’m delighted that BT has made the £5m gainshare available early so it can be invested in helping even more people in the county to get faster internet connections.

Dave Hughes, East of England Regional Director for BT, added: “It’s great news that so many people have chosen to upgrade to faster broadband in Cambridgeshire. Such high take-up of the service has enabled BT to offer a further £5.3m success dividend to re-invest back into the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme to connect some of the hardest to reach properties.

“This builds on £18m BT has already contributed to the rollout, and we’ll continue to work closely with Cambridgeshire to ensure we reach as many homes and businesses as possible with the investment available.

“There’s still more to do, but engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, are working hard to ensure the rollout continues as quickly as possible. Our network is open to all broadband providers so people can choose from a wide range of providers. Fibre broadband is not provided automatically. People need to arrange an upgrade with their chosen service provider.”

The programme complements the commercial rollout of fibre broadband in Cambridgeshire by Virgin, BT and other providers. The average broadband speed in the county has doubled from just three years ago, according to Ofcom.

Image courtesy of photoiconix

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