Five years on: Rutland celebrates broadband success

More than 10,000 benefit from UK’s most successful broadband programme.

One of the first people in Rutland to get superfast broadband, thanks to the county council’s work with BT and the UK government, says it’s now difficult to imagine life without it.

Pete Burrows, lives in North Luffenham, the first village upgraded to fibre broadband thanks to the multi-million pound Digital Rutland partnership.

The programme launched in 2012 and has since become the most successful in the UK, with a record 54 per cent of homes and businesses signing up to use fibre broadband.

And Pete says it’s making a huge difference to everyday life: “Looking back now, it’s hard to imagine how we managed without faster broadband speeds. Already, it’s become something we take for granted and a key part of everyday life. For me, it’s meant working from home is much easier and I’m quite often the envy of colleagues across Europe and around the world for having such a fast internet connection.

“Without the speed and reliability of fibre broadband I’d probably have to commute to a rented office somewhere like London on a regular basis in order to run my business. Digital Rutland has meant I can grow and develop my business in Rutland, saving me time and money and keeping me where I want to be.”

Digital Rutland partnership between Rutland County Council, the UK government and BT was launched in May 2012 at Oakham Castle. Since then, the programme, which is ahead of schedule and under budget, has made fibre broadband available to more than 10,000 homes and businesses.

Most of the work has taken place in rural areas, and according to independent website thinkbroadband.com, that’s helped with a significant increase in the average download speed across the county between 2012 and 2017.

It’s also had a major boost for upload speeds, which are actually faster now in 2017, than download speeds were when the project started.

Helen Briggs, Chief Executive of Rutland County Council, said: “Rutland was one of the very first places in the whole of the UK to make the rollout of fibre broadband a priority for residents and businesses and it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come in the past five years.

“To have the highest take-up of fibre broadband services anywhere in the country is quite an achievement and goes to show just how important the internet is to people living and working here. The positives are clear for all to see and we’re committed to getting the most from our partnership with BT and the UK government so that as many people as possible can enjoy the benefits.”

Across Rutland, more than 95 per cent of premises can now get fibre broadband thanks to Digital Rutland and BT’s own commercial rollout.

Recent areas to benefit include Barleythorpe, Bisbrooke and Pickworth. Work has also taken place in parts of Barnsdale, Burley, Egleton, Gunthorpe, Little Casterton, Pilton, Ridlington, Ryhall, Tickencote, Tinwell, Tolethorpe and Wardley.

Steve Henderson, Openreach’s regional director for next generation access, said: “Our partnership in Rutland has been a real success story right from the start. We’ve taken superfast speeds out to towns and villages across the county, making a massive difference to the people who live and work there. But we’re not finished yet and work is already underway with the council to see how we can extend our reach even further.”

Engineering work for Digital Rutland is being carried out by Openreach, the UK’s leading digital infrastructure provider, which is part of BT Group. This means residents and businesses can order fibre broadband products from a wide range of internet service providers, with speeds up to 80Mbps widely available.

For more information about Digital Rutland and how to sign up for fibre broadband, please visit: www.rutland.gov.uk/digitalrutland.