High-speed fibre helps Glenridding spring into action for easter season

Local business heralds arrival of fibre "as important as running water" to local community

Holidaymakers arriving at the southern end of Ullswater over the Easter school holidays can now take advantage of high-speed fibre broadband to show everyone back home the beauty of the area.

The Connecting Cumbria partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT has given a much needed boost to the flood-hit local tourist industry and residents alike by making fibre broadband available to more than 200 homes and businesses in Glenridding.

In addition, 150 homes and businesses can access the high-speed service in other locations around the south of Ullswater, including Patterdale.

Engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business - have overcome engineering challenges brought about by the floods, such as flooded ducts that house the fibre, to run 18km of fibre cable underground from Pooley Bridge to serve the new green fibre cabinet in the village.

One local businessman and resident who sees the arrival of high-speed fibre broadband in the community as essential to local tourism, is Graeme Connacher, a captain of the Ullswater Steamers, a company which has been operating cruises on Ullswater for more than 150 years.

“When I was a child holidaying in the lakes each year, the first thing I did when I jumped out of the car is ask my Dad if we could blow up the dinghy,” he said. “Now when the kids arrive with their parents the first thing they ask is ‘what’s the wi-fi password!’

“You can’t run a holiday let or hotel these days without a good, fast broadband connection. People want a home from home where, yes they can spend all day outdoors, but in the evening they want to be able to post the photos they took online or put their feet up after downloading a film or catch up TV on their tablet.

“I truly believe that high-speed fibre broadband arriving in the lakes is as essential to the tourism business as a water supply.”

Graeme plans to use the fast internet connection to improve the content on his website, such as live webcams, interactive content and downloadable commentaries. His customers will also be able to take advantage of faster wi-fi speeds whilst they wait to board the Steamers.

Local businessman Jon Holdsworth, who manages Patterdale Hall Estate, which provides self-catering accommodation for holidaymakers, is already seeing huge benefits after signing up to fibre shortly after its arrival in Patterdale.

He said: “We’ve had it for a few months now and it has transformed the business. We saw a big leap in speed from five to around 40Mbps. Having fibre has enabled us to set up a wi-fi access point so we can provide full- blown wireless broadband across our caravan site and all our 11 self-catering holiday homes. We did have limited wi-fi before we had fibre, but if there were a lot of customers online the office broadband would end up crawling to a halt.

“Good wi-fi is vital for a business like ours. Life is just a big multi-media experience these days. People are out on the Fells and they’re actually uploading pictures to things like Facebook before they even get back home. Quite often, especially during the school holiday period, we can see fifty devices plus online, so at least one device per person.It is incredible – virtually everybody is online now – even the older generations. Before we had broadband we had a few cancellations simply because we couldn’t offer wi-fi.

“For businesses in the area who haven’t got fibre yet but are thinking about it – I think it is a no-brainer. You’d just be mad not to, especially as the cost of it is only negligibly more and sometimes even less.”

David Southward, Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for economic development, said: “Tourism is the life blood of the Lake District and with the visitor season kicking off at Easter, it is vital that we do everything we can to show the world that Cumbria is open for business as well as provide our visitors with the best possible experience.

“High-speed fibre broadband being available in our key iconic locations shows that not only are we open for business, despite the floods and our rural location, but we are using the technology to enhance what we offer.In 2014 Cumbria and the Lake District received just over 41.5 million visitors. These visitors brought in £2.44 billion to the region’s economy and provided employment for 33,920 full time equivalent posts.”

Mike Blackburn, BT North West regional director, said: “Superfast broadband is now seen as an essential rather than a luxury. In areas such as the Lake District that are so dependent on tourism for the local economy, the internet is a must to show the world that they are open for business. High-speed fibre broadband enables them to create media rich content that instantly gets that message across.

“There is no quick and easy way to get superfast broadband to rural areas. It involves challenges above and beyond those you would encounter in a more urban environment, but we are making solid progress. Together with our commercial programme, we have already reached nearly 220,000 homes and businesses with our fibre network in Cumbria - and we are going further.”

When an area has gone ‘live’ for fibre, people need to contact their service provider to upgrade as it doesn’t happen automatically. Because the network is ‘open’, they have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.


Press contact:Please contact the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be found at www.btplc.com/news

Notes to Editors:

Since October 2013, the Connecting Cumbria project – a partnership between Cumbria County Council and BT - has enabled more than 500 fibre broadband cabinets, with more being switched on every day. More than 118,000 households and businesses now have access to fibre as a result of the project.

About Connecting Cumbria

The Connecting Cumbria Programme’s ambition will, by a combination of commercial investment and gap funding, enable access to Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband to 93 per cent of Cumbrian homes and businesses when added to the private sector’s commercial rollout.And Connecting Cumbria is providing two thirds of its rollout with speeds of more than 50 mbps.

There is, in addition, a commitment that all Cumbrian properties will have access to speeds of at least 2Mbps by some means by the end of the programme. 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.
Connecting Cumbria will ensure maximum coverage is achieved from available resources, demonstrating maximum value for money. Cumbria County Council has a continuing commitment to expand NGA broadband services and make NGA broadband service available to additional areas across Cumbria as funding becomes available.

About ERDF

The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the ERDF 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’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It 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. Following the acquisition of EE on 29 January 2016, BT consists principally of six customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, EE, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2015, BT Group’s reported revenue was £17,979m with reported profit before taxation of £2,645m.

    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.