New £6 million scheme gives superfast broadband boost to thousands more Cheshire homes and businessses

Connecting Cheshire has announced a multi-million pound boost to its roll-out of superfast fibre broadband, which will result in the technology becoming available to thousands more homes and businesses.

Another 10,000 Cheshire homes and businesses are expected to have access to fibre broadband by summer 2017 as a result of the £6m project signed between four Cheshire councils and BT for a second phase “Superfast Extension Programme”.

It is expected to take fibre broadband coverage in Cheshire to more than 400,000 homes and businesses when BT’s commercial roll-out of the technology is also taken into account.

It was revealed at a signing ceremony that BT had won the contract to extend the superfast network across the county.

Work will start on the planning of the additional network in autumn 2015. The money has come from Government, and Cheshire councils and it will be supplemented by funding from BT.*

Councillor David Brown, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council said: “I am delighted we are able to extend the coverage of the Connecting Cheshire project to reach even more premises, particularly in our rural areas, where we know so many people are struggling with slow and unreliable broadband speeds. This is great news for small businesses, students and people of all ages who need and rely on excellent-quality broadband for so many of their modern-day needs.”

Julian Cobley Connecting Cheshire Project Director said: “The response to our current roll-out has been tremendous, with ever more homes and businesses taking the opportunity to upgrade to faster broadband. So to be able to extend this opportunity to 10,000 additional premises is fantastic news.”

Bill Murphy, managing director of Next Generation Access for BT, which is contributing some £1.7m towards the new programme, said: “BT has always said there is more to do in Cheshire truly to encourage businesses and residents to create the connected communities they want and deserve. So we are delighted to be given the chance to give a further 10,000 Cheshire homes and businesses the opportunity to invent a new, more prosperous future.”

The fibre broadband network built by Connecting Cheshire, a partnership of four Cheshire councils, BT and the European Regional Development Fund, will give thousands access to this ground-breaking technology. More than 48,000 premises have already been passed out of a total of 80,000 covered by the first phase of the Connecting Cheshire programme which will finish at the end of 2015.

And, in part of this second phase, more than £600,000 from the Rural Community Broadband Fund will be targeted at especially difficult places to reach in Cheshire. Connecting Cheshire has just finished a consultation to pinpoint the areas to be included in this part of the programme. Further announcements about the areas with additional coverage will be made during 2015 once the network planning and design phase has been completed by BT.

Fibre broadband, which can boost the competitiveness of businesses, helping them to grow and work more efficiently, also helps people to work from home and to set up businesses from home. It was hailed by Cheshire’s Tatton MP, The Rt Hon George Osborne, in a broadband launch last month at Lower Peover, as “helping to reinvent the rural economy”.

The technology also offers new online learning and entertainment opportunities for households and transforms TV watching, gaming and film streaming.

Among the many people who are finding that high-speed fibre broadband has transformed their life at home and at work is Mike Gibbons, the managing director of Definteco based in Runcorn, which specialises in the design and project management of integrated technology solutions. These include audio visual systems, security and data networks, for super-yachts worldwide.

Since he upgraded to fibre in October, Mike, who lives in Sandymoor, Halton, has seen his broadband speed increase from 5 Mbps to 75 Mbps, which allows him to spend more time working from home and with his family.

He said: “With two teenage daughters we are heavy users of social media, streaming films and catch-up TV. We’ve gone from 5 Mbps to 75 Mbps, and the difference has been huge. For my business, things are now much better too. I can upload and download large files and technical drawings, video conference with clients and as I travel a lot, my family can now keep in touch with me via video calls wherever I’m working.”


Notes to Editors
* Phase 2 funding consists of the following:

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) £1.82m
Cheshire Councils £1.82m
Rural Community Broadband Fund £643,000.
BT £1.7m

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 Regional Development Fund, £9m from BT, £4m from BDUK with £1.85m provided jointly from the councils.

The first phase £28.5m project is providing 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