High-speed broadband in Keswick delivers boost for tourism

Technology will boost businesses, according to research; 

Local broadband champion welcomes the new economic lifeline.
The arrival of high-speed fibre broadband is set to deliver a boost for tourism and business in the Lake District town of Keswick, according to research.

Nearly 1,400 homes and businesses in Keswick are now able to connect to faster fibre broadband, thanks to Connecting Cumbria, the £51 million partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT. This figure will rise to nearly 3,000 when engineers complete the first stage later this summer. This brings the total figure across the county to almost 39,000 under the Connecting Cumbria programme.

This news comes as the Government today announced that more than 1 million UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) rollout. Up to 40,000 premises are now gaining access every week and the programme will extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017.

Engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – have installed six new road-side fibre cabinets in Keswick in this first stage, four of which are already live, to connect local people to the new fibre optic network. Three more are planned in the area later this year, with a further three more to be delivered in 2015.

When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to opt for an upgrade and because the network is ‘open’, they have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.

Research for BT carried out by Regeneris says investment in fibre broadband in rural areas of the UK can boost business returns, business start-ups through cloud computing and support for home workers and jobs.**

Statistics show small and medium size business form the backbone of the Cumbrian economy with 84 per cent or firms employing fewer than 10 employees and operating from villages, hamlets and isolated properties***. Tourism is the mainstay of the Lake District economy. In common with many rural areas it has taken over from farming as the main source to income. In 2013 tourist revenue was £2,237 million in the County of which almost half, £1,080 million, comes from the National Park where Keswick is situated, according to Cumbria Tourism.****

Geoff Davies, broadband activist and hub co-ordinator for Keswick and the surrounding parishes, is keen to see the local residents take maximum benefit from the roll-out of fibre broadband. He said: “The availability of fibre broadband to the Keswick area will significantly improve the internet speed that residents can access, offering a more reliable service free from the frustrations of buffering and slower speeds at times of peak demand. I would encourage people to contact their internet service provider to enquire about availability and to shop around for the best options for connection to make the most of the deals currently available.”

Cumbria county councillor, Andrew Lysser said: “Whilst Keswick competes extremely well on the world stage, high-speed broadband gives us the opportunity to maintain and improve our position in tourism, commerce and education. Congratulations BT for your persistent hard work to make this happen.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “The Connecting Cumbria programme is making strong progress, bringing high-speed fibre broadband to some of the most challenging areas. The programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together. BT has brought technical expertise to the table as well as millions of pounds of investment and, if we can go further, we will do so. This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and leisure.”

The Connecting Cumbria partnership, which builds on the commercial investment of BT and other providers, will ensure at least 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses can access high-speed fibre broadband by the end of 2015. Once an area has been enabled people can get download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps*. It’s an ‘opt in’ service and because the Openreach network is ‘open’, people can choose from a number of different fibre broadband providers, ensuring competitive prices and products.

For business support in Cumbria go to www.bigcumbria.com for advice on free services such as training workshops, skills master classes and business development events. These will demonstrate how faster broadband helps develop business and increases profits by maximising efficiency and productivity.

For further information on the Connecting Cumbria programme visit www.connectingcumbria.org.uk


Note to Editors
*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
** ‘Superfast Broadband – Boosting Business and the UK Economy’.
*** Cumbria Business Survey 2013 Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership - http://www.cumbriaobservatory.org.uk/elibrary/Content/Internet/536/675/4356/41746161019.pdf
**** Economic Impact of Tourism – Cumbria Tourism - http://www.cumbriatourism.org/research/surveys-data.aspx

The Connecting Cumbria Project will build upon BT and other providers’ existing commercial investment to ensure at least 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses can access high-speed 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 is contributing £15m to the project with £17.1m coming from Broadband Development UK (BDUK), £13.7m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and £5m through the Performance Reward Grant (PRG) from all councils in Cumbria. On top of this, additional ERDF and PRG funding will contribute to the roll-out and marketing of fibre broadband in Cumbria.

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

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.
According to Ofcom, the county’s average downstream speed is currently 7.1Mbps whilst 18.8 per cent of the population receive less than 2Mbps.

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 per cent 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

For photos of the Connecting Cumbria project fibre deployment and for generic pictures of the BDUK fibre deployment, please go here; https://www.flickr.com/photos/107803477@N08/sets/

For more details of fibre rollout plans go here; www.bt.com/furtherwithfibre

All BT news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.bt.com/newscentre

Photos are available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/107803477@N08/sets/

For general enquiries to Cumbria County Council's communications team contact media@cumbria.gov.uk or call 01228 226338/ 221008/ 226601.