Major boost for Black Country households and businesses as fibre broadband project passes 20,000 premises milestone

More than 20,000 businesses and households are now able to access high-speed fibre broadband thanks to the ambitious Black Country Broadband Project, lead partners Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and BT announced today. It's part of the Government's Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. The milestone has been welcomed by Beacon Centre for the Blind.

More than 20,000 businesses and households are now able to access high-speed fibre broadband thanks to the ambitious Black Country Broadband Project, lead partners Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and BT announced today.

Areas of Aldridge, Bearwood, Cradley Heath, Greets Green and Lyng, Halesowen, Kingswinford, Leamore, Penn, Pleck, Smethwick, Soho and Victoria, and West Bromwich are among the latest communities to benefit.

Beacon Centre for the Blind, in Sedgley, which is using fibre broadband to expand its online services, said it was important more people now also had access to fibre broadband services at home.

Nick Comley, Head of Social Finance & Business Development, Beacon Centre for the Blind, said: “High-speed broadband has made it possible for Beacon to provide employment support for people with visual impairment, particularly in digital technology and software solutions, as well as to access online advice, information and guidance relating to sight loss prevention and conditions through a network of community located digital kiosks. In addition, it’s made it easier for people with sight loss to connect with family and friends through video streaming and email and through the digital distribution of the Black Country Talking News.

“The pace of the Black Country Broadband roll-out is making it easier for an increasing number of people who use our centre to access these sorts of services at home too.”

As part of the roll-out, engineers have installed more than 190 fibre broadband road-side cabinets, which are needed to enable local premises to connect to the new network.

Because the project is being rolled out by engineers from Openreach – BT’s local network business – residents and businesses opting for an upgrade can choose from a wide range of broadband service providers.

Ninder Johal, Chair of the Black Country Broadband Group and a Board Member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, said:“A superfast internet connection can make a world of difference to businesses and homes.For businesses superfast broadband can help organisations to become more efficient, cheaper to run and easier to develop improving competitiveness both in the UK and overseas, bringing a real boost to the local economy. At home benefits include faster downloads of music and movies and simultaneous online browsing improving the quality of the online experience for all the family.

“Reaching the 20,000 milestone is a huge step in delivering our ambition of a minimum of 98 per cent high-speed fibre broadband availability across the Black County by the end of 2017.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director of next generation access, said: “The roll-out of fibre broadband is progressing extremely well and our project teams are working hard to make it available to even more parts of the Black Country. Every day we’re hearing how fibre broadband is making a positive impact on people’s lives – whether it’s someone working or running a business from home, or families wanting to connect several devices to the internet at the same time for leisure or learning - everything is easier, better and faster with fibre broadband.”

The Black Country Broadband Project was launched to bring fibre broadband to areas of the region that are not already able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of any commercial roll-outs.

For more information on the Black Country Broadband Project visit www.blackcountrylep.co.uk/place/broadband-plan


Note to Editors

The £12.2 million Black Country Broadband Project is a partnership between Black Country LEP, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, supported by the four local authorities in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton.

Combined investments by BT and other communications providers means high-speed fibre broadband is already available to around 92 per cent of the area – more than 468,000 homes and businesses.

The Black Country Broadband Project will extend the availability of high-speed fibre broadband to 98 per cent of homes and businesses across Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton by the end of 2017.

Funding for the programme is made up of £2.9 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery (BDUK) programme, £6.4 million from BT and £2.9 million from the Black Country LEP’s Growing Places Fund.

The Growing Places Fund enables organisations to apply for funding to invest in Capital projects, including land, property and infrastructure, which unlock economic growth and create jobs.


Issued by Black Country LEP and the BT regional press office.

For more information please contact Helen Annetts, PR on behalf of the Black Country LEP on 07779026720 or email HelenLAnnetts@hotmail.co.uk


Emma Tennant at BT on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com

Twitter: @EmmaTennantBT All BT news releases are available at http://www.btplc.com/News

About Beacon

For more information please contact: Nick Comley on 01902 880111.
Beacon has recently launched the Visionary+ Challenge which aims to inspire innovative sensory solutions through digital delivery and home automation and connected autonomous transport, none of which would be possible without access to superfast fibre broadband. As a Karten Network centre, Beacon is proud to be a centre of excellence for digital inclusion in the Black Country.

About the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

  1. The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aligns activity across private and public sectors to create the right environment for businesses with a remit to tackle barriers to business growth and create a globally competitive local economy.
  2. Programmes to deliver our vision are structured around three areas of activity:
  • Business: supporting skills and competitiveness
  • People: raising skills and employability, for example through our City Deal and Skills Factory;
  • Place: including the provision of more high quality employment land through our Enterprise Zone and City Deal.
  1. The LEP Board has identified seven priority areas where action will have the most impact on the Black Country and its contribution to the national economy:
  • Exploiting the potential of the Black Country as a place to live, do business and invest; focusing on our housing offer, the quality of employment land, and the distinctive role of our four strategic centres.
  • Using supply chains to build business commitment to skills and growth
  • Supporting innovation at our major science and business parks

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 180 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.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Global Services, Business and Public Sector, Consumer, EE, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.

For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.

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.For more information, visit www.btplc.com