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Cumbria superfast broadband rollout to get £2.5m boost from BT

Thursday, August 6th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Around £2.5m is being made available to extend fibre broadband across Cumbria, it has been announced.

The extra cash is part of £129m that BT is making available to local authorities across the country to reinvest in superfast broadband projects after take-up proved to be better than stated in its original business case.

It is being made available to Cumbria County Council to reinvest in providing further superfast broadband coverage to more homes and businesses and earlier than originally planned.

It is not known exactly which parts of Cumbria will benefit yet, but the council said the Connecting Cumbria programme is working with BT to decide how the cash could be used to extend coverage throughout the county, targeting many properties in hard to reach places.

Cllr David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “This money is a bit like a reward for delivering superfast fibre broadband on track and on time and surpassing the original expectations on how many people will be signing up to fibre.

“It looks like we’re going to burst through that 20% take-up figure into around a third of properties, so BDUK are allowing us to reinvest even more money into getting to more of the hardest to reach properties.”

Steve Edwards, BT Group director for NGA, added: “The fibre broadband rollout is a real success story, and we’re delighted to be able to share that success with Cumbria by making £2.5m available to help connect some of the hardest to reach homes and businesses.

'Beyond our expectations'

“The open network which we’re rolling out brings real choice to communities and this is helping to drive take-up which is key to the programme’s future.”

BT announced the multi-million pound reinvestment in superfast broadband schemes last week as it revealed its first quarter results.

The £129m is the result of a ‘gain share’ clause in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) contracts that says if take-up is better than BT’s original business case of 20%, funding it received should be returned or reinvested into further coverage.

Culture secretary John Whittingdale previously welcomed the news, saying: “The government was clear from the start that as levels of people taking up superfast broadband went beyond our expectations in areas where we invested public money, BT would reimburse the taxpayer for reinvesting into further coverage across the UK.

“This now means that BT will be providing up to £129m cashback for some of the most hard to reach areas.”

Earlier this week, Cable.co.uk reported that £5.3m of the £129m is being made available to extend the rollout of superfast broadband in Norfolk.

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