Multi million pound high-speed broadband partnership reaches 60,000 homes and businesses as latest street cabinet is switched on

High-speed fibre broadband is now available to more than 60,000 homes and businesses under the Connecting Cheshire Partnership, providing faster and more reliable broadband services across Cheshire.

Many rural areas are now joining the fibre fast lane and seeing a major increase in broadband speeds, often ten times their previous speeds. In some cases speeds of up to 80mbps* are now available for premises close to the 320 new roadside fibre-optic cabinets installed by the partnership to date.

The expansion is part of a £28.5 million project between BT and four Cheshire Councils – Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, and Warrington – rolling out high-speed fibre broadband across the county. They are working in addition to the private sector’s commercial programmes to reach 80,000 premises with faster and more reliable broadband by the end of June this year. This will bring the total figure for Connecting Cheshire and commercial roll-out to 96 per cent coverage across Cheshire.

A second phase roll-out is under development which will see an additional 10,000 premises reached by the end of 2017, to provide more rural areas with much needed faster speeds.

The latest green street cabinet containing the fibre connections has just been switched on at Lymm, near Warrington. Other recent areas enabled with faster broadband include Mickle Trafford, Pickmere and Moore..

Julian Cobley, head of investment and project director for Connecting Cheshire, said: said: "Reaching as many additional premises as possible with fibre has been a hugely rewarding investment in Cheshire's economic and social development, but we realise there is still much work remaining to ensure more homes and businesses are not left behind without fast and reliable broadband.

"Work is underway to reach as many premises as we can, so please bear with us if we haven't got to you yet, we know how important Internet access is to everyone - young or old and to businesses in particular."

Mike Blackburn, BT’s regional director for the North West, said: "Our engineers and planners are working as fast as they can to deliver more fibre broadband and are connecting homes and businesses every day. From unblocking underground ducting to commissioning new roadside cabinets, their hard work and dedication is making a huge contribution to this project."

Christine East, director of local business Lymm Pet Supplies, has recently benefited from the Connecting Cheshire Women in Business programme. This was an ideal opportunity for Chris to gain up to date knowledge and benefit from the free support and advice available. Support included setting up an electronic card payment system, a cloud based system for both invoicing and stock control and email marketing. When asked if she would recommend the service to others, she responded: “Absolutely! I have been able to immediately implement these tools into my business and see immediate results!”

Photo caption: Attending the switch-on of the first Connecting Cheshire cabinet in Lymm were left to right: Andrew Arditti - Connecting Cheshire; Cllr Sheila Woodyatt MBE – Lymm Parish Council and Ward Councillor Warrington Council; David Mowat MP - Warrington South; Ian Marks – Chair of Lymm PC and Ward Councillor Warrington Council; Christine East - Lymm Pet Supplies.


Notes to Editors:
*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers. Speeds offered by service providers may vary.

About Superfast Britain
Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn 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 comprises three linked programmes:

● £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 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 Connecting Cheshire
The Connecting Cheshire project was launched in April 2013, and is a partnership of four councils – Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East, Halton and Warrington – and BT. It is funded by £13.6m from the European Development Fund, £9m from BT, £4m from BDUK with £1.85m provided jointly from the councils.

The £28.5m project will provide fibre broadband to more than 80,000 homes and businesses. This builds on BT’s commercial investment so that 96 percent of Cheshire –around 400,000 premises – will have access to speeds of up to 80mbps by the end of 2015.

The project will reach those areas outside of any commercial broadband roll-out using a partnership approach to ensure all communities have access to the fastest possible broadband speeds. For more information visit www.connectingcheshire.org.uk

*About ERDF
The project is part financed by the North West Competitiveness Programme, European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. 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.gov.uk/erdf-programmes-progress-and-achievements