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Nottinghamshire fibre rollout hits target ‘ahead of schedule’

Friday, May 6th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

The first phase of Nottinghamshire’s government-funded fibre rollout has been finished on time and in budget, organisers have announced.

The Better Broadband for Nottinghamshire (BBfN) partnership made the announcement at the same time it was revealed that fibre is now available to 95% of homes and businesses in the county – a year ahead of the government’s national target.

Work on the second phase of the project, which will extend fibre coverage to 98% of premises by 2018, has now started.

BBfN, a partnership between Nottinghamshire County Council and BT, is one of the biggest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in the county.

The first phase of the rollout, which covers areas that aren’t served by commercial providers such as BT or Virgin Media, saw nearly £20m invested in upgrading the county’s telecommunications infrastructure.

More than a quarter of homes and businesses (27%) in areas covered by the first phase have already signed up to receive a fibre service.

In some areas, take-up has been more than 50% and the capacity of fibre cabinets has been increased to meet demand.

The county council’s contract with BT includes a ‘gainshare’ mechanism, which means that the more people who sign up, the more money is returned to the council to be reinvested in expanding broadband availability further or in new technologies.

The second phase of the project is starting immediately – nine months earlier than planned – and will see more than 130 Nottinghamshire towns and villages either get access to fibre for the first time, or see existing broadband boosted to superfast speeds over the next two years.

More than 17,000 homes and businesses will benefit from the £9.2m second phase, which will include communities in every district of the county, but the majority of improvements will be aimed at rural areas of Bassetlaw, Newark and Sherwood and Rushcliffe.

'Success'

By the time the work is finished in spring 2018, more than 80,000 properties in Nottinghamshire will have access to superfast broadband as part of the programme and, when combined with the private sector’s commercial rollout, will mean 98% of the county will have fibre access.

Councillor Diana Meale, chair of the economic development committee at Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “Access to good quality broadband is just as important as access to basic utilities for many residents and businesses today, making BBfN a vital investment in Nottinghamshire’s infrastructure and future economic prospects.

“Delivering the scheme in a diverse county like Nottinghamshire has been challenging, but I am delighted that we have been able to deliver the first phase of such a huge project ahead of schedule and within budget.

“Phase two of BBfN is being more targeted at those districts with more rural areas where, despite making large strides in improving coverage, more investment is needed to bring them up to the level of coverage enjoyed in the rest of the county.

“In many cases, people and businesses living in those towns and villages have been unable to access the online services, learning, communication and opportunities that many of us now take for granted – but not for much longer.”

Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for next generation access, said: “Nottinghamshire has been a real success story as the rollout of fibre broadband across the county has gathered pace.

“We’ve delivered the first contract on time and within budget, transforming the online fortunes of tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

“Attention now turns to contract two and the difficult challenge of making fibre broadband available in some of the most rural areas.”

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