Multi-million partnership to bring superfast broadband to 91 per cent of homes and businesses across Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire

War veterans help to celebrate D-Day for fibre broadband on the anniversary of the Normandy landings 

A £14.57 million project to transform broadband speeds for homes and businesses across Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire was announced today. 

CSW Broadband, a partnership of eight local authorities 1 led by Warwickshire County Council, has agreed a deal with BT to help deliver superfast fibre broadband to around 91 per cent of premises by Spring 2016 2. 

The deal was celebrated at a launch event at Warwick’s historic Lord Leycester Hospital that was attended by many of the Local Broadband Champions who have helped the project, together with ex-servicemen who reside at the facility. 

The project will build on BT’s ongoing commercial investment in fibre across the area. The company has already started to bring faster fibre broadband to more than 1.7 million homes and businesses across the counties of the West Midlands as part of its UK-wide £2.5 billion fibre programme which will be completed by the end of Spring 2014. 

As a result of today’s new partnership around a further 40,000 premises should have access to broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above by the end of the project. 

On completion of the rollout, the aim is for all premises within Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire to receive a minimum of 2Mbps but with a vast majority achieving higher speeds well in excess of this. 

The project will transform broadband speeds across the partnership areas narrowing the bandwidth gap between urban and rural areas. According to Ofcom 3, Warwickshire’s average downstream speed is currently around 12Mbps whilst approximately 13 per cent of the population receive less than 2Mbps. 

BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework .The company is contributing £5.67 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas whilst the CSW Broadband Project is contributing £4.45 million – of which £3 million is from Warwickshire with the balance coming from other local authorities. A further £4.45 million is from BDUK funds. 

Openreach, BT’s local network division, will now begin the work on the ground with engineers surveying locations around the county and analysing the best way to roll out the network across the county. Following initial planning and survey, the CSW Broadband Project should be in a position to connect the first premises in early 2014. 

Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. This delivers wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps 4 and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand throughout the whole of the fibre footprint should local businesses want the ultra-fast speed it offers.5

Speaking on behalf of CSW Broadband, Warwickshire County Council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Alan Cockburn, said: “This is a major landmark in securing the future competitiveness of our area. We have been working for a long time to get to this stage and, thanks to the information provided to the team by our local broadband champions and by residents and communities we have been able to negotiate the best possible deal. 

“Good broadband connections are essential to modern life, whether for work, leisure or learning. Our rural businesses need broadband to be able to compete in today’s increasingly global environment, and in a rural area like Warwickshire travelling can often be difficult, so that being able to work or learn from home can make a real difference to the quality of peoples’ lives.” 

Bill Murphy, Managing Director, BT Next Generation Access, added: “The Normandy landings marked a turning point in world history so it is fitting that we are signing this contract here at the Lord Leycester Hospital, which is home to many ex-servicemen.” 

“In its own small way the launch of fibre broadband marks a historical turning point, albeit a technological one, for this region, bringing a host of economic and social benefits.” 

“The economy of Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire has seen considerable change, with the emergence of more knowledge-based businesses and changes to the manufacturing base of the area, which is embracing new technologies and new ways of working These are where future growth will be but only with a world-class communications infrastructure to support them which is where fibre broadband will play a vital role.” 
BT’s network will be open to all communications providers (CPs) on an equal wholesale basis – currently around 80 CPs are using fibre over BT’s network - and so consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market, in turn bringing greater choice and affordable prices. 

For local businesses, the fibre broadband network will underpin the introduction of many new services and applications. Users will be able to run multiple bandwidth-hungry applications at the same time and receive large amounts of data much more quickly and efficiently. Computer processing and storage of files will also become more sophisticated and secure using “cloud computing” technology. There will be faster back up of computer systems and wider use of high quality video conferencing within firms and between them and their customers. 


Notes to Editors 

More information about the project can be found at http://www.cswbroadband.org.uk where you can also sign up for updates which will be sent out in the regular e-newsletters. 
Coventry is now working with BDUK on a Super Connected Cities Project which aims to increase accessibility to next generation broadband for businesses in the city. 

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), a unit within the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, is responsible for managing the Government’s broadband funding. BDUK has developed a procurement framework and CSW Broadband has undertaken the procurement of the supplier through this framework. More information is available on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website. 
About CSW Broadband 

CSW Broadband is a partnership of eight Local Authorities (Coventry, Solihull, Warwickshire and the Boroughs and Districts of North Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth, Rugby, Warwick and Stratford on Avon). 

The project office will be hosted by Warwickshire County Council and will be based in Warwick. The project team can be contacted on 01926 738339 or broadband@warwickshire.gov.uk 

1 Project partners are; Warwickshire County Council (lead partner), Coventry City Council, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, North Warwickshire Borough Council, Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, Rugby Borough Council, Warwick District Council, Stratford District Council. 
2 Fibre coverage extended to 92 per cent of Coventry, 96 per cent of Solihull and 91 per cent of Warwickshire. 
3 Figures from Ofcom’s Fixed Broadband Map 2012. 
4 80Mbps is a wholesale speed. ISPs (internet service providers) may use different speeds in their advertising. Individual line speeds will depend on network infrastructure and the service chosen by the ISP. Openreach provides external CPs (communications providers) with a variety of ways in which they can offer fibre broadband to their customers. These include an ‘active’ product – GEA – which comes in various speed combinations and a ‘passive’ product – PIA – whereby CPs can lay their own fibre via BT’s ducts and poles if they want greater control over the service they offer. 
5 Openreach has started to make FTTP (fibre to the premises) on demand available in its fibre footprint. Openreach will levy an installation charge for the service. It will be up to the service providers to then decide whether they pass that onto businesses or consumers wishing to take advantage of the product.