FIRST AREAS TO BENEFIT FROM MULTI-MILLION POUND DIGITAL DERBYSHIRE PROGRAMME ANNOUNCED AS PROJECT GOES LIVE
The first green fibre cabinet bringing superfast broadband to businesses and residents across the county as part of the Digital Derbyshire programme has gone live at Markham Vale Enterprise Zone to serve business premises in the area. Four new cabinets will be switched on in parts of Bolsover during the first phase of the project along with cabinets in Alfreton, Tibshelf and Holmewood, bringing fibre broadband access to more than 2,000 businesses and residents by the end of June 2014.
It is the first stage of the £27.67 million Digital Derbyshire project to transform broadband speeds for thousands more businesses and residents across the county. Derbyshire County Council, working in partnership with BT, is leading the programme which aims to build upon private sector roll-out, to provide more than 95% of Derbyshire’s businesses and residents with access to fibre-based broadband by the end of 2016.
Councillor Joan Dixon, Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Jobs, Economy and Transport, said: “This is great news for people living and working in Derbyshire. Our county is a beautiful place to live and work but its rural nature has meant many areas have been left behind when commercial operators have rolled out broadband services.
“This investment in superfast broadband will open up endless business and leisure opportunities and will help to boost our rural areas, support economic growth and allow local communities to continue to thrive.
“Whether it’s for business, shopping, learning or socialising, the internet is such a huge part of daily life for many of us and that will only grow in the future. That’s why we’ve been driving this project forward to boost the local economy by closing the digital divide.”
It is estimated engineers from Openreach, a BT Group company, will spend more than 68,000 hours planning and building the network during the lifetime of the project which will involve laying around 750,000 metres of optical fibre and installing around 445 new green fibre broadband cabinets at roadsides throughout the county.
Brendan Dick, managing director, BT Regions, added: “We have been working hard to get us to where we are today. This is an exciting time for Derbyshire and the beginning of a journey that will see the communications landscape completely transformed.
“This project will boost the local economy and help to create and protect local jobs. It will be of enormous benefit to local business which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”
Derbyshire County Council signed the multi-million pound contract with BT in August 2013 to work in partnership on the Digital Derbyshire programme which builds on the private sector’s existing commercial fibre deployment in Derbyshire.
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 funds, as well as £2.5m from the European Regional Development Fund.
As well as giving more than 95 per cent of the county’s homes and businesses the option to access fibre-based broadband through a choice of internet providers by the end of 2016, the project will aim to increase speeds to remaining premises by delivering a minimum of 2Mbps – fast enough to use online services such as BBC iPlayer.
Government Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This is fantastic news for more than 80,000 homes and businesses in Derbyshire that will benefit from this multi-million pound project. The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and widespread access to superfast speeds will provide a tremendous boost to the Derbyshire economy.”
For more information about Digital Derbyshire visit www.digitalderbyshire.org.uk or follow us at www.twitter.com/DigitalDbshire and www.facebook.com/digitalderbyshire