Christmas comes early to parts of the county thanks to Connecting Cumbria

Cumbria’s multi-million pound high-speed broadband project has passed an important milestone a month ahead of schedule. 

More than 10,000 homes and businesses across the county are now able to connect to faster fibre broadband as a result of Connecting Cumbria. 

Partners BT and Cumbria County Council today confirmed the challenging milestone had been passed at the beginning of December – a month earlier than originally planned. 

By the end of 2015, Connecting Cumbria will have helped to extend fibre broadband access to 93 per cent of county properties - with the remaining premises unable to benefit from fibre having access to at least 2Mbps - making Cumbria one of the best connected places in Europe, and helping to break down Britain's digital divide between rural and urban areas. 

Councillor David Southward, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Economic Development, said: “I’m delighted the roll-out of superfast broadband has passed another important milestone. More and more homes and businesses across the county are getting access to high speed broadband, thanks to the significant investment being made through the Connecting Cumbria project.” 

Paul Cretney, BT’s project manager for Connecting Cumbria, said: “Rolling out fibre broadband is a huge engineering operation, but work is progressing 
extremely well. We’re thrilled to be delivering high-speed broadband as an early Christmas present in some parts of the county.” 

Connecting Cumbria is in addition to BT’s commercial roll-out which will bring faster fibre broadband within reach of 92,000 homes and businesses across 
Cumbria by the end of Spring 2014 as part of its £2.5 billion investment programme. 

As part of Connecting Cumbria, fibre broadband has been delivered earlier than planned in parts of Lazonby, Rockcliffe, Ulverston and Walney, as well as in 
parts of Dalton-in-Furness, Maryport, Penrith, Whitehaven and Workington not already covered by BT’s commercial rollout. 

The upgrades to superfast broadband do not happen automatically. People need to contact their internet service provider to request the service. A choice of suppliers is available, thereby ensuring competitive pricing, so customers are advised to shop around. 

Bardsea, Barrow and Cockermouth will be next to benefit from Connecting Cumbria in January 2014, with Allonby, Brampton, Harrington, Hayton, Southwaite and Wetheral earmarked for upgrades also early in the new year. 

To find out about the latest areas to be switched on to super-fast broadband, follow progress via Twitter @Connect_Cumbria 

Issued by the BT regional press office and Cumbria County Council. 
For more information please contact Emma Tennant on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com 
Or Cumbria County Council Communications Adviser Jim Smith on 01228 226325. 

Notes for editors 
The Connecting Cumbria Project will build upon BT and other providers’ existing commercial investment to ensure at least 93% of Cumbrian homes & businesses can access fibre broadband by the end of 2015, with the aspiration that all Cumbrian properties have speeds of at least 2Mbps.This includes working with some of Cumbria’s remotest communities to extend the fibre network through innovative community projects in the hardest to reach areas.
BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Cumbria consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market, in turn bringing greater choice and affordable prices. 
About ERDF 
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 https://www.gov.uk/erdf-programmes-progress-and-achievements 
About BDUK 
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements: 
• £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017 
• £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities 
• £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services 
Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life. 
For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk 
About BT 
BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach. 
For the year ended 31 March 2013, BT Group’s reported revenue was £18,103m with reported profit before taxation of £2,315m. 
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 
For more information, visit www.btplc.com