Multi million pound partnership secures superfast broadband for West Yorkshire

Today, a new £21.96 million contract between four West Yorkshire local authorities and BT has been agreed to transform broadband speeds across West Yorkshire by the end of Autumn 2015. 

The new project, “Superfast West Yorkshire” plans to extend high-speed fibre broadband to 97 per cent of households and businesses across the majority of West Yorkshire 1. As well as providing high speed fibre, the partnership aims to upgrade 100 per cent of premises in this area to speeds of more than 2Mbps. 

Superfast West Yorkshire builds on BT’s commercial investment of £2.5 billion to roll fibre broadband out to two-thirds of UK premises by the end of Spring 2014. Leeds City Council, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Wakefield Council and Calderdale Council will work with BT to bring fibre broadband to premises in West Yorkshire which are not currently included in commercial roll-out plans and could otherwise have missed out on this opportunity. 

Together with Kirklees Council, a demand stimulation and business support programme will be developed to demonstrate the benefits of high speed internet to residents and businesses. This part of the project has already registered demand from over 780 businesses and residents across West Yorkshire through the website www.superfastwestyorkshire.co.uk. 

BT was awarded the contract following a procurement exercise through the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. BT is contributing £12.58 million towards fibre deployment in “non-commercial” areas, with the four local authorities contributing £970,000. Alongside this partnership, the project has received £4.62 million of funding from BDUK and the remaining £3.79 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) .2 

Ed Vaizey, Communications Minister, said: “This £21.96 million project will deliver an incredible transformation in broadband speeds for thousands of homes and businesses in West Yorkshire. It will be instrumental in driving growth, boosting the local economy, and achieving the Government’s objective of reaching 95% of all UK premises by 2017.” 

Fibre broadband will be of particular benefit to local businesses which can use the high speed technology to improve their competitiveness both nationally and internationally. This investment in infrastructure will enable a level playing field for small businesses to compete with multinationals on new business opportunities and aims to create and protect local jobs by attracting inward investment. Fast upload speeds will mean businesses can enable their employees to enjoy the flexibility of working from home to reduce office costs and encourage a good work-life balance. 

The project will also be of significant value to local residents who will have improved use of daily online activities like shopping, banking and catching up on their favourite TV programmes. 

Councillor Keith Wakefield, chair of the Association of West Yorkshire Authorities (AWYA), said: “This is an important day for West Yorkshire as we take a vital step forward in the digital age. Fast and reliable internet is becoming crucial to daily life and for residents in West Yorkshire, it will provide an equal opportunity to access essential online activities such as council services, healthcare and other public services as well as offering new leisure and educational opportunities. 

“I believe it will help us strengthen our economy by giving small businesses a means to develop their potential and achieve their ambitions as well as encouraging new start-ups and job creation. 

“This pioneering project will be of real benefit to many residents and businesses in West Yorkshire and we are continuing to work hard to bring the whole of West Yorkshire up to speed.” 

“I encourage all businesses and residents in the region to take full advantage of this exciting opportunity and put West Yorkshire on the superfast map.” 

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for Next Generation Access, said: “This project is vital to the future economic strength of all the local authority areas involved in this project. It will go beyond BT’s commercial roll-out of fibre broadband and take faster broadband to areas which are technically and economically more challenging.” 

“An enhanced digital infrastructure in West Yorkshire will help consolidate the area’s reputation for technology, innovation and enterprise and make this large part of the Leeds City Region a more attractive proposition for business re-locations and start-ups – including the creation of new, high-tech jobs.” 

“Broadband is completely changing the way we use the internet at home with existing and new services being increasingly delivered on-line. These services, whether for entertainment or education, are becoming more sophisticated and content-rich and depend upon fast reliable higher speed broadband.” 

BT’s network will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis so consumers and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market as this was an important stipulation to the tender process. Currently more than 80 service providers across the UK are trialling or offering fibre broadband over BT’s network. 

Fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) will be the main technology deployed which delivers wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. 3 

Openreach has also started to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology, where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business, commercially available on demand in certain areas where fibre broadband has been deployed, and plans to expand access in due course. FTTP-on-demand offers the top current download speed of up to 330Mbps. 4 

Fibre broadband at home means everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in the few minutes it takes to make popcorn; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. Fibre improves the quality of online experiences and supports exciting new developments in internet services. 
Superfast West Yorkshire will be announcing the installation schedule in the coming months and communities across West Yorkshire can look forward to improved access to online services and better connectivity for businesses from 2014 onwards. 

1The area of West Yorkshire covered by this project can be found in the map in the notes to editors. 
2The Superfast West Yorkshire project is part financed by the 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.communities.gov.uk/erdf 
3These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. 
4Openreach will levy an installation charge for FTTP on demand. It will be up to service providers to decide whether they pass that on to businesses or consumers wishing to use the product. 

Notes to editors: 

• The Leeds City Region (LCR) Partnership brings together a group of 11 local authorities (Barnsley, Bradford, Calderdale, Craven, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds, Selby, Wakefield, York and North Yorkshire County Council), its local enterprise partnership (LEP) and partners to support economic growth and a better quality of life for our communities. 
• To achieve this vision the Partnership is working to deliver a city region wide economic strategy, “The Plan”. The Plan’s objectives are to support business and enterprise, enable a skilled and flexible workforce, foster a low carbon, sustainable economy and create the infrastructure for growth. 
• To ensure effective delivery of these priorities the Partnership was one of the first to agree a ‘city deal’, securing Government support to deliver its flagship initiatives. 
For more information on the Leeds City Region Partnership please visit www.leedscityregion.gov.uk. 

About AWYA 
• The AWYA is an association of the five West Yorkshire metropolitan local authorities – Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield. It was established in 1993 to provide a forum for the discussion and co-ordination of matters of mutual concern and interest. 
• The AWYA acts as the local government voice of West Yorkshire, promoting and lobbying for its interests and identity. It provides a means for the five Councils to reach joint views on proposed legislation and other matters of concern to West Yorkshire, and to express these views to organisations such as Local Government Yorkshire and the Humber (LGYH), central government and other appropriate bodies. 

About BDUK 

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% 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