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Full steam ahead - fibre fund boosts fast broadband roll-out to Staffordshire rural communities

Press Release   •   Mar 13, 2018 10:44 GMT


People living and working in two Staffordshire communities are looking forward to getting some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country, thanks to an innovative scheme to ensure the county’s smallest communities don’t miss out on the latest technology.

Eight residents and businesses in Marchington Woodlands, near Uttoxeter, and 30 in Rushton Spencer, near Leek, are the latest to sign up for Staffordshire County Council’s Community Fibre Partnership Support Fund (CFPSF).

Stephen Perrins, who lives in Marchington Woodlands with his wife Karen, said: “We can’t wait to get fibre broadband installed. It’s going to be great to bring our part of the Woodlands into the 21st century, and being able to get download speeds of up to 330Mbps will mean less time screaming at the PC and more time spent streaming our favourite TV shows via BBC iplayer.”

The £400,000 co-funding scheme is run by the Superfast Staffordshire partnership, which is part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme and supported by Openreach, the business responsible for Britain’s largest phone and broadband network.

As the scheme reaches its first anniversary, it has already helped scores of households and businesses in the communities of Cotwalton, Cold Norton and Brookside Business Park boost their broadband speeds with the latest Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology.

Roger Harris, owner of Brookside Business Park, said: “Being a rurally based business park we have the opportunity to offer certain advantages to businesses. I have plenty of office space and lots of parking and reasonably easy accessibility. The one downside was that we didn’t have very good broadband connectivity. Due to the Superfast Staffordshire partnership we were able to get superfast broadband here reasonably quickly and it’s made a fantastic difference to enable us to attract clients and to stabilise businesses that are already on the park.”

One of those businesses is Oyster Group Ltd, the digital marketing group, owned by Phil Osman.

He said: “We converted over to superfast broadband as a result of the broadband partnership at Brookside. We’re now enjoying speeds of up to 80mbps. The service has been so much more reliable and it’s made a huge difference to our business.

“One of our problems was uploading files to a remote server. Now we can do in seconds what used to take us three hours using satellite broadband or 20 minutes on standard ADSL broadband.

“Improving the reliability of our broadband service has certainly reduced stress levels. We’re able to send files much more quickly so that’s making us more efficient.”

There’s still funding available and Staffordshire County Council wants to hear from other communities not yet earmarked for any public or private sector roll-out, who might be eligible for its co-funding project

As part of the scheme, any money raised by households and businesses in an eligible community can be matched by the Superfast Staffordshire Community Fibre Partnership Support Fund. Openreach can also provide funding through its Community Fibre Partnership programme, which is already working with hundreds of communities across the country.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader, Mark Winnington, said: “The Superfast Staffordshire programme has been a huge success – connecting communities across the county to faster broadband which the private sector’s commercial roll-out hadn’t reached. It means 95 per cent of Staffordshire is now covered.

“However, we have always maintained our commitment to finding solutions for remaining communities and our Community Fibre Partnership Support Fund initiative is one of a number of ways we can do that. The programme team has demonstrated its innovation through the delivery of the partnership support fund.

“We’re pleased to mark the support fund’s first anniversary with some rural businesses already benefiting from the scheme even as we announce more communities signing up. These businesses tell us connection has improved efficiency while residents can now do things many people take for granted like downloading larger documents or films quickly and with ease.”

Steve Haines, Openreach’s managing director of next generation access, said: “These partnerships are vital to help ensure that the most rural and hard to reach locations are not left behind in the digital age and the Superfast Staffordshire project is one of many successful partnerships in which we are involved across the country that are helping these communities to thrive.

“Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology will help transform the broadband picture in the UK by ushering in a new era where ultrafast speeds are widely available. Openreach recently pledged to accelerate its own commercial FTTP roll-out, with the aim of making it available to three million homes and businesses around the UK by the end of 2020.”

So far, Superfast Staffordshire has enabled more than 75,000 households and businesses to connect to superfast broadband speeds. The figure rises to more than 480,400when combined with commercial fibre broadband roll-outs by private sector businesses, such as Openreach.

People can follow the progress of the roll-out via the Superfast Staffordshire website: www.superfaststaffordshire.co.uk and via Twitter @superfaststaffs or Facebook.

Because the fibre broadband network is being installed by Openreach, households and businesses have a wide choice of fibre broadband providers. Upgrades do not happen automatically. Anyone wanting to benefit needs to place an order with their chosen fibre broadband provider.

Notes to Editors

Staffordshire businesses and residents talk about the benefits of the Superfast Staffordshire roll-out in these short video clips.

Superfast Staffordshire helps rural businesses in Cold Meecehttps://youtu.be/9PxrlMAPvpY

How can Superfast Staffordshire help your business?https://youtu.be/wsFMCPV8-Rs

Why businesses should consider Superfast Staffordshirehttps://youtu.be/MXfek7G2eNg

Cut down upload speeds from hours to seconds with Superfast Staffordshirehttps://youtu.be/OL_GoaRcC6A

Rural business park benefits from Superfast Staffordshirehttps://youtu.be/3cKksuYxaTU

Get your business connected with Superfast Staffordshirehttps://youtu.be/5z0-MACMYAE

---ends---

Issued by Staffordshire County Council and Openreach on behalf of Superfast Staffordshire.

For more information please contact Tom Hobbins at Staffordshire County Council on 01785 276832 or email: tom.hobbins@staffordshire.gov.uk

or

Emma Tennant on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com

Twitter: @EmmaTennantBT

All Openreach news releases can be accessed on our web site.

About Superfast Staffordshire

Superfast Staffordshire is a partnership between Staffordshire County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK) and BT Group. It builds on the commercial roll-outs in the county.

The first phase of the Superfast Staffordshire programme represents an investment of more than £27 million (£7.44 million from Staffordshire County Council, £7.44m from BDUK and £12.47m from BT.)

In the second phase of the programme - known as the Superfast Extension Programme - a total of £10.18m will be spent to deliver superfast fibre broadband to around 12,700 more county premises (£2.7m from unallocated funding combined with cost efficiency savings during contract 1, £2.18m from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Superfast Extension Programme, £2.8m from BT Group together with an extra £2.4m also from BT Group following higher than expected take-up of fibre broadband). This will take the percentage of county premises able to access superfast fibre broadband by the end of 2018 to 96 per cent.

For those premises not included in the fibre footprint, Superfast Staffordshire is aiming to improve broadband speeds using alternative technologies and community fibre co-funding partnerships.

Superfast Staffordshire is using a mixture of technologies. These include Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC), which provides download speeds of up to 80Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps, and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP), which is capable of delivering download speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and upload speeds of up to 220Mbps. Speeds referred to are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all broadband service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

About Superfast Britain

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

  1. £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017;
  2. £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities; and
  3. £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.

    Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk

About Openreach

Openreach is Britain’s digital network business.

We’re 30,400 people who connect homes, mobile phone masts, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, broadcasters, governments and businesses - large and small - to the world.

Our mission is to build the best possible network, with the highest quality service, making sure that everyone in Britain can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 590 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and BT, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more 27 million premises. We’re also the platform for Britain’s thriving digital economy, which is the largest in the G20.

We’re working hard to give people the speeds they need to run and enjoy their daily lives. Over the last decade, we’ve invested more than £11 billion into our network and we now manage more than 160 million kilometres of cable stretching from Scotland to Cornwall, from Wales to the east coast. And we’re continuing to take that network further - making superfast broadband speeds available to thousands more homes and businesses every week.

Openreach is a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, and it is a highly regulated business, with more than 90 per cent of our revenues generated from services that are regulated by Ofcom.

Any company can access our products under exactly the same prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2017, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visitopenreach.co.uk