A £27.67 million project to transform broadband speeds for thousands more businesses and residents across Derbyshire was announced today.
Derbyshire County Council, which has spearheaded the Digital Derbyshire programme, has signed a contract with BT to make fibre broadband available to a further 88,000 premises across the county, bringing it to more than 95 per cent of homes and businesses by 2016. The project builds on BT’s existing commercial fibre deployment in the county.
The project aims to ensure that the remaining premises will also see an uplift in speed and deliver a minimum of 2Mbps to almost all homes and businesses, fast enough to use online services such as BBC iPlayer.
Derbyshire County Council Leader Councillor Anne Western said: “Today’s contract signing is without doubt the most important step of the Digital Derbyshire project so far.
“Residents and businesses have told us in their thousands that they want a better broadband service in Derbyshire – we’ve listened and are making it happen.” Councillor Western added: “A fast and reliable broadband service is as important as good road and rail links for businesses in the modern day and that’s why we’ve made it one of our priorities.
“It’s vital that our businesses – including those in rural locations – are at least on a level playing field with other areas of the UK and further afield to be able to maintain and create jobs in a thriving Derbyshire economy.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director, Next Generation Access, added: “Increasingly broadband is at the heart of everything we do – both for work and pleasure and this project will mean a huge step forward for the county as a whole.
“Small companies dominate the county’s economy with more than 80 per cent employing less than 10 people. In today’s economy a fast and reliable broadband service is vital for their success, and for attracting new inward investment to Derbyshire, which in turn will help to stimulate jobs and growth throughout the county.”
Improving broadband speeds is a priority of the county council and its survey , which received more than 6,500 responses, showed just how important fast broadband is to the residents and businesses of Derbyshire.
The survey showed:
- 67% of residents need to upload/download large documents at home
- 36% need broadband to work from home one or more days a week
- 84% of businesses say superfast broadband availability is very or fairly important when relocating
- 48% of businesses are concerned about future broadband provision
Government Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This is brilliant news for Derbyshire homes and businesses and will see 95 per cent of the county able to access superfast speeds by the end of 2016. The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and widespread access to superfast broadband will provide a tremendous boost to the Derbyshire local economy.”
The county council chose BT to work in partnership on its Digital Derbyshire programme after an extensive procurement process using the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework.
BT is contributing £12.87m to the project while Derbyshire County Council is contributing £4.9m. A further £7.4m is coming from the Government’s BDUK funds as well as £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Openreach, BT’s local network division, will now begin the work on the ground with engineers surveying locations around the county and analysing the best way to roll out the network. There will be a phased approach to the roll-out, with the first areas predicted to be upgraded in 2014.
Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. This can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand throughout the fibre footprint should local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers.
The new fibre-based network will be open to all communications providers on an equivalent basis. Households and businesses in Derbyshire will therefore benefit from a highly competitive market, bringing greater choice and affordable prices from a wide range of service providers. It will also boost the competitiveness of local businesses, helping them to find new customers and operate more efficiently, whilst opening up a host of new learning and development opportunities for households.
Superfast broadband benefits include users being able to use multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and sending and receiving large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. New fibre services are set to transform the way consumers use the internet, from the simple sharing of pictures and video to enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available on-line.
For local businesses, the fibre network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by new ‘cloud’ services will be within the reach of enterprises of all sizes. Computer back up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high-quality videoconferencing will become a viable possibility.