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Cumbria set for ultrafast broadband boost

Press release   •   Jul 26, 2019 16:20 BST

Pic: Paul Cretney, Openreach contract manager with Michael Shemilt, Openreach Learning and Development trainer and Jonathan Harris, senior programme manager, Connecting Cumbria.

Connecting Cumbria has announced plans today (25 July) to bring some of the fastest broadband speeds in the UK to more than 2,000 homes and businesses in harder to reach rural areas of Cumbria.

The Connecting Cumbria broadband rollout, a partnership led by Cumbria County Council and Openreach, is being extended to fill in broadband gaps and support their ambitions to improve digital connectivity across all areas of the county.

This additional phase of the rollout will use the latest Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) technology. Not only is it quick - speeds of up to 1Gbps (Gigabit per second) mean you can download a two-hour HD movie in 25 seconds – but it’s also future-proof and more reliable.

Work will take place over the next year, with the additional rollout being funded with efficiencies made during earlier phases of work.

The announcement was made as the Connecting Cumbria team visited Openreach’s new Training School in Livingston, West Lothian, which has an ‘Open Street’, which mimics a typical residential road providing a safe, real-life network and training environment for engineers.

The team was given a demonstration of how FTTP technology works and a tour of the centre, where many of the 80 new Openreach engineers recruited from across Cumbria in the past 15 months have been trained.

Welcoming the announcement,Jonathan Harris, senior programme manager for Connecting Cumbria, said: “The importance of having faster, more reliable Internet access – wherever you are – cannot be underestimated. It’s vital for our businesses to be able to compete and for our communities to thrive.

“In a geography like Cumbria rolling out faster broadband is no mean feat but by using the latest FTTP technology we can reach more premises and begin to fill in gaps in coverage. There is more to do but the roll-out continues and we are determined to make faster broadband available to as many homes and businesses as possible.”

Superfast broadband has now been made available to more than 125,000 homes and businesses that would not be able to get it without the Connecting Cumbria programme which is supported by Building Digital UK (BDUK).

Combined with commercial provision, the superfast broadband rollout has already reached around 93 per cent of premises in Cumbria.

Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director, said: “We’ve already done a huge amount of great work across Cumbria both commercially and in partnership with Cumbria County Council, but we don’t intend to stop here.

This latest phase of work will help us make fast and reliable broadband available to more, very rural parts of the county, which will make a huge difference to the lives of people living and working there.

“None of this would be possible without our engineering workforce. And It’s great that in the past 15 months around 80 people from Cumbria have decided to come and work for us - the country’s largest team of telecoms experts working to expand, upgrade, maintain and install services over our network.”

More information about Connecting Cumbria can be found at connectingcumbria.org.uk

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About Openreach

Openreach Limited is the UK’s digital network business.

We’re 33,000 people, working in every community to connect homes, schools, shops, banks, hospitals, libraries, mobile phone masts, 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 the UK can be connected.

We work on behalf of more than 620 communications providers like SKY, TalkTalk, Vodafone, BT and Zen, and our fibre broadband network is the biggest in the UK, passing more than 27.5m UK premises

Over the last decade we’ve invested more than £13 billion into our network and, at more than 173 million kilometres – it’s now long enough to wrap around the world 4,314 times.

Today we’re building an even faster, more reliable and future-proof broadband network which will be the UK’s digital platform for decades to come. We’re on track to reach four million premises with this ‘full fibre’ technology by March 2021 and ultimately, we want to upgrade the majority of the UK if the conditions are right. We’re also hiring around 3,000 trainee engineers this year to help us build that network and deliver better service across the country.

Openreach is a highly regulated, wholly owned, and independently governed division of the BT Group. More than 90 per cent of our revenues come from services that are regulated by Ofcom and any company can access our products under equivalent prices, terms and conditions.

For the year ended 31 March 2019, we reported revenues of £5.1bn.

For more information, visit openreach.co.uk