Broadband engineers rise to the challenge in Derbyshire to reach 20,000 milestone by Christmas

Digital Derbyshire today revealed how engineers overcame an unexpected challenge in their drive to make high-speed fibre broadband available to 20,000 homes and businesses by Christmas.

A landslide near the village of Eyam meant the planned route to bring fibre broadband into the village was no longer an option. Engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network division, quickly developed an alternative solution, involving 600 metres of extra cable.

The village is one of the latest communities to benefit from the Digital Derbyshire broadband partnership between Derbyshire County Council and BT, along with Duffield, Grindleford, Overseal and Repton.

The next stages of the project will see work taking place in Clay Cross and Horsley.

Tony Tracey, one of the local engineers from Openreach who’s been working on the project, explained: “Most of our work takes place without any problems, but when you are running fibre cables over extremely long distances then it’s almost inevitable that the unexpected will sometimes occur. When it does, we pull together to find a solution and once a job is complete it’s very satisfying to know that local people are benefitting from our hard work.”

Since April, the Digital Derbyshire partnership between Derbyshire County Council and BT has installed 75 new fibre broadband cabinets, expects to increase that number to 100 by Christmas, and has laid more than 250,000 metres of underground cables throughout the county – enough to travel from Derby to York and back again.

Digital Derbyshire is a £27.67m project led by Derbyshire County Council in partnership with the UK Government and BT to extend access to fibre broadband to more than 95 per cent of Derbyshire’s businesses and residents by the end of 2016.

It aims to build on the private sector’s roll-out of fibre broadband on a phase by phase basis. BT’s commercial roll-out in Derbyshire has already made high-speed fibre broadband available to more than 365,000 homes and businesses.

Councillor Dean Collins, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, said: “Our plan to bring high-speed fibre broadband to 88,000 homes and businesses in Derbyshire by the end of 2016 is well underway. Challenges presented by the county’s diverse landscape mean many areas have been left behind when commercial operators have rolled out broadband services.

“But the Digital Derbyshire project is continuing at a pace – and on schedule – with a committed team working hard to overcome these challenges and close the digital divide to benefit local businesses, boost the economy and improve the internet access we all rely on as part of our everyday lives.”

The new network being delivered by Openreach is available on an equal, wholesale basis to all broadband service providers, thereby ensuring competitive pricing and products for local households and businesses.

BT is contributing £12.87m to the project while the county council is contributing £4.9m. A further £7.4m is coming from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK fund, as well as £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund.

For more information please visit www.digitalderbyshire.org.uk or email broadband@derbyshire.gov.uk