BT unveils super-fast broadband plans for thousands of homes and businesses in Wakefield city centre

Wakefield included in BT’s roll-out of high-speed fibre broadband; latest digital development welcomed by Wakefield Council 

BT today announced a further expansion of high-speed fibre broadband in Wakefield. Around 20,000 local homes and businesses in the city centre are to benefit. 

The company expects this to be the final community in Wakefield to be included in its £2.5 billion commercial roll-out of fibre broadband in the UK. Future announcements will focus on areas where fibre coverage is to be expanded even further via partnerships with the public sector and local communities. 

Openreach, BT’s local network business, will carry out work to connect the areas announced today between now and the end of Spring 2014, subject to planning and technical constraints.

The expansion also includes further investment in making fibre broadband more widely available in Castleford and South Elmsall which already have the high-speed technology. 

Councillor Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council and chair of the Leeds City Region Leaders’ Board, said: “Wakefield has made tremendous strides to redevelop and regenerate the city centre and we continue to push the district as an excellent place to grow or relocate businesses. But, while we have world-class city centre assets and 21st century developments, businesses remain frustrated by out-dated telecoms infrastructure. 

“The UK, and cities like Wakefield, have been lagging behind in telecoms infrastructure, but not in internet use, and there is a real hunger from our businesses and residents for much better, faster communications. 

“We welcome this important initiative as a way of delivering 21st century telecoms infrastructure and hope that this is just the beginning of better things to come for faster broadband connections.” 

Today’s announcement will take the total number of premises with access to fibre broadband in West Yorkshire to around 775,000. Around 557,000 are already able to get the service - and BT is working with the public sector to reach more communities through the Superfast West Yorkshire project. 

Superfast West Yorkshire plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of households and businesses across the majority of West Yorkshire by the end of Autumn 2015. As well as providing high speed fibre, the partnership aims to upgrade 100 per cent of premises in this area to speeds of more than 2Mbps. 1 

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “This is an exciting time for the digital future of Wakefield with widespread availability of fibre broadband services fast becoming a reality for thousands of local homes. 

“With today’s further fibre broadband investment in Wakefield, we hope even more local people will soon experience the difference for themselves by joining the 1.7 million UK homes and businesses already using the technology.” 

BT’s fibre footprint currently passes more than 16 million UK homes and businesses. It is due to pass two-thirds of UK premises – around 19 million premises – by the end of Spring 2014, at least 18 months ahead of the original timetable. 

Openreach is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. In addition to download speeds of up to 80Mbps, FTTC also delivers upload speeds of up to 20Mbps2 — and could deliver even faster speeds in the future. 

Openreach has also started to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand3 in certain areas where fibre broadband has been deployed, and plans to expand access in due course. FTTP on demand offers the top current download speed of 330Mbps. 

According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK residential broadband download speed is 14.7Mbps. 

Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in the few minutes it takes to make popcorn; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports exciting new developments in internet services. 

The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office. 

Unlike other companies, Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, underpinning a competitive market. For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit www.superfast-openreach.co.uk

Notes to editors: 
1 The Superfast West Yorkshire project is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf
2These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. 
3 Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that on to businesses or consumers wishing to use the product. 

Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Openreach is considering alternative solutions for these locations.