My speech at the broadband contract signing event today

Good morning everyone. I’d like to welcome members of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Broadband Delivery Group including District Councillors and our partners in business, education and health; as well as our colleagues from BT, the Connecting Cambridgeshire Programme team, and the local media.

Today’s signing of the contract between Cambridgeshire County Council and BT is a significant milestone which means work can begin on rolling out superfast broadband across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough as soon as possible.

In fact, just today the Openreach programme team are co-locating in this building with the Connecting Cambridgeshire team.

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.

I am pleased to announce that we have exceeded our ambitious targets to make superfast speeds available to more than 90% of homes and businesses across the county with better broadband for very nearly all premises by the end of 2015.

In fact – alongside the commercial roll-out which is already happening – by the time the contract is completed, around 98% of the county’s homes and businesses can expect to get fibre-based broadband.

This is a much higher figure than our neighbouring counties such as Suffolk which is expected to achieve 90% fibre broadband (with 85% superfast).

And, let’s not forget that without the intervention of the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme around a third of households and businesses would not be able to access faster broadband services.

This contract means we have exceeded our already ambitious targets so that many more homes and businesses will now be able to get superfast broadband. And no community will be left without better broadband access when the roll-out is complete.

We can achieve this by building upon existing commercial broadband plans and intervening in areas that would not otherwise get it.

We have made this happen by joining forces with our partners in local councils, business, education and health, and by taking the initiative.

I would like to thank everyone involved for their support and hard work in realising our ambition.

We all know that comprehensive broadband is essential if we are going to:

• drive growth in the local economy – to create local jobs and prosperity for the long term
• help our communities to thrive – so that everyone benefits from being part of the digital world
• make our public services more accessible to all – particularly elderly and vulnerable residents who need our support – and more cost-effective for taxpayers.
Together with Peterborough City Council, BDUK and BT, we have made a substantial investment in this £45 million project.

Cambridgeshire already has some of the most innovative businesses in the world and it is one of the few areas in the country that can help get the UK economy back on track.

We anticipate 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 will mean that every £1 invested will bring a return of £11 to the local economy. It will also help us to deliver public services in new and more cost-effective ways.

The Connecting Cambridgeshire campaign has been supported by over 24,000 households and businesses and it is this and the efforts of our dedicated broadband champions that helped us to get such a good deal. I would like to thank them for their all hard work and hope they will continue to support the project during the roll-out.
This deal also means we can work on driving take-up, helping people to get online, exploiting new opportunities to deliver public services through technology, and supporting businesses to boost the local economy.

This is a large-scale project which will involve upgrading over 100 telephone exchanges and installing thousands more new cabinets across the county.

The Connecting Cambridgeshire team will be working closely with BT, neighbouring authorities, local authority planning teams, broadband champions and local communities to make the process as speedy and efficient as possible.

The question on everyone’s lips is ‘when will it be my turn?’

Clearly this contract has now defined the outcomes. The next step is to work through the detailed design which is likely to involve a complete re-design of the network across Cambridgeshire.

As soon as we have worked this through we will be able to publicise the project plan.

Remember the roll-out plan will be predicated on the best value for money and bringing forward the project in the quickest way we can.

With a fair wind we should be hauling cable within this year.

We can’t answer that now but what I can say is the roll-out has to be carefully planned in phases in the most cost-effective way to make the best use of public money.

The important thing is that we are getting on with this now while other areas of the country are still waiting to get started.
This really is a programme for the whole of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and by 2015 everyone will have benefitted.
I am determined to see the roll-out is completed on time and I will be holding BT to that.
I’d now like to introduce Bill Murphy, Managing Director, Next Generation Access, BT, to tell us more what happens next…

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