05
October
2015
|
12:02
Europe/Amsterdam

High-speed rural broadband champion MP backs BT remote community pledge

Summary
A BT pledge to work with the Government to give harder-to-reach homes and businesses access to the high speed fibre optic network has been backed by rural broadband champion, Rory Stewart MP.

High-speed rural broadband champion MP backs BT remote community pledge

Fell End in Cumbria a model for whole country says Rory Stewart MP

Remote communities not yet on network can register on new website

A BT pledge to work with the Government to give harder-to-reach homes and businesses access to the high speed fibre optic network has been backed by rural broadband champion, Rory Stewart MP.

BT chief executive, Gavin Patterson, announced earlier this month: “We stand ready to support the Government’s ambitions when it comes to getting fibre broadband to the harder-to-reach properties in the UK. Our intention is to never say no.”

Already 90 per cent of the country can get high-speed fibre broadband and by the end of 2017 this figure will be 95 per cent.And the company is working with 90 communities, such as Fell End in Cumbria, to reach more remote places across the UK that have not been covered by existing rollouts.

Communities keen to bring fibre broadband to their areas can register on a specially set up website at: www.openreach.co.uk/communityfibre

Now Rory Stewart, MP for the most sparsely populated English constituency of Penrith and the Border, who has long been a champion of rural high-speed broadband and Fell End, has backed the BT pledge.

He said: “The BT rural community pledge is a vital step forward in recognizing that the most remote communities cannot be ignored; and I strongly welcome this commitment to working with government and local communities to do what is necessary to achieve 100% coverage. We have already led the way here in Cumbria, with the Fell End ‘build-and-benefit’ model and there is no reason why this cannot be replicated, to the benefit of the remaining five per cent. This is great news; what we have to do now, is ensure that the message reaches all those remote communities, and ensure that we help them by giving them the tools and the expertise to get connected.”

Libby Bateman, who led the self-dig scheme, where almost 60 homes and firms are able to access the technology that can transform entertainment and boost businesses, said: “We started this project to prove this kind of partnership approach can work.Fell End has learned valuable lessons and we have shown there is a solution for remote communities.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said:“The community of Fell End blazed a trail for fibre broadband for remote communities across the UK. We have around 90 of these schemes on the go already around the UK. Communities who want to work with us to bring this truly transformational technology to their homes and businesses should sign up on the new website today and we will do everything we can to help them.”

Fell End is a self-dig rural community broadband project that has just celebrated its first year of operation.The homes and businesses are able to access speeds up to a blistering 330 Mbps. The project was spearheaded by Ravenstonedale Parish Council and it raised around £6,000 locally towards the scheme, which in turn helped them to secure £53,000 additional funding from the UK Government’s Rural Community Broadband Fund, £26,000 from the Prince’s Countryside Fund, a further £2k from the Holhird Trust and £1k from TalkTalk Digital Heroes. BT provided extensive network materials and manpower for the project.

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