Cambridgeshire signs broadband deal with BT.

Businesses and communities in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will have some of the best fibre broadband coverage in the country following a deal with BT to provide a county-wide high speed network by the end of 2015.

Cambridgeshire County Council has today signed a contract with BT that exceeds its ambitious targets to bring better broadband to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. The contract will build on the existing commercial fibre broadband network in the area meaning that many more homes and businesses will be able to get superfast broadband and no community will be left without better broadband access when the roll-out is complete.

The new broadband infrastructure will contribute towards the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme targets so that superfast speeds of at least 24Mbps are available to more than 90 per cent of premises and a minimum of 2Mbps to virtually all premises over the next three years.

Combined with existing commercial broadband provision, completion of the roll-out under the contract will mean that 98 per cent of homes and businesses across the county can expect to have access to fibre-based broadband by the end of 2015.

Without the intervention of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme around a third of premises would not have been able to access faster broadband services. The scale of the county-wide roll-out will mean some areas will be connected sooner than others, but by starting work now everyone will benefit from better broadband by the end of 2015.

BT was chosen by the Council following a competitive selection process. The company will contribute £16 million to the £45 million project with the rest of the investment coming from Cambridgeshire County Council, Peterborough City Council and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).

Cambridgeshire already has some of the most innovative businesses in the world and investment in better broadband is vital to drive future economic growth. It is anticipated that the roll-out of the new broadband infrastructure across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will bring an additional £500 million to the local economy in the five years following completion. This means that every £1 invested will bring a return of £11 to the local economy. It will also help to develop new and more cost-effective approaches to the delivery of public services.

“This is a super deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, which will make us one of the best connected areas in the UK over the next three years. We have made it happen by joining forces with our partners and taking the initiative to bring vital connections that will boost the local economy and ensure that those living in isolated communities are not left out of the digital world.”

“Better broadband will allow us to build upon the business and enterprise success of our region, helping to create local jobs and prosperity for the long term. It will help our communities to thrive and make public services more accessible for our residents, particularly elderly and vulnerable people, and more cost-effective for taxpayers.”

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey, said: “The nationwide roll out of superfast broadband is going to deliver massive benefits to businesses and communities across the UK. The UK does more business online than other European country, and it’s estimated that by delivering fibre-based broadband to 98% of Cambridgeshire’s homes and businesses by 2015, we will bring an additional £500 million to the local economy within 5 years of completion.”

Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Access, BT, added: “This is a great achievement coming just one year after the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme was formed.

“The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme will open up the county to a wealth of opportunities such as growing business and creating jobs in rural areas, providing health, education and public services in better ways and helping young people and adult learners to develop the skills they need to succeed.”

The competitive process to get the best broadband deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has been successfully completed with the support and advice of BDUK, which has allocated £6.75 million of Government funding to the project.

The project was helped by more than 24,000 households and businesses registering for the Connecting Cambridgeshire campaign – making it the most effective in the country – and the fantastic support of over 100 broadband champions.

Work on the project will start immediately with the first locations expected to get fibre later this year. The three-year roll-out will begin with a period of planning and detailed surveying, before Openreach, BT’s local network business, starts work on the ground.

The large-scale project will involve enabling over 100 telephone exchanges and many more cabinets The Connecting Cambridgeshire team will be working closely with BT, neighbouring authorities, local authority planning teams, broadband champions and local communities to ensure the roll-out is as speedy and efficient as possible.

BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Cambridgeshire and Peterborough consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market, in turn bringing greater choice and affordable prices.

The fibre-based network will allow businesses to introduce many new services and applications. Big business applications driven by cloud services will now be within the reach of firms of all sizes. Computer back-up, storage and processing will be faster, and the use of high quality videoconferencing by firms and their customers will be possible, which can also help to reduce transport demand.

Faster speeds will also transform the way people use the internet in the home – enabling them to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time, speeding up the simple sharing of pictures and video and enjoying the growing boom in entertainment services available online.

The Connecting Cambridgeshire programme is led by the County Council working in partnership with Peterborough City Council, BT and the Government body BDUK, with the support of District Councils and partners in business, health and education.

Regular updates and FAQs are available on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website

Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. This delivers 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 start to become available on demand, from Spring 2013, throughout the whole of the fibre footprint. These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

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