Quick as a Flash - Superfast broadband is delivered to UK's highest village

Arrival of fibre broadband hailed as high point by Flash businesswoman – who sees 80-fold increase in speeds; Shop and cafe has sights set on sharing clearer view of Moorlands and Peak District beauty spot.

A Staffordshire community, famed for being the highest village in the UK, is celebrating another high point.

Thanks to Superfast Staffordshire – the broadband partnership spearheaded by Staffordshire County Council and BT - residents and businesses in Flash are now enjoying some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country.

Despite its remote location – 463 metres above sea level – installing fibre optic broadband in the village posed no unexpected challenges for engineers from Openreach, BT’s local network business, who are rolling out the technology for Superfast Staffordshire.

The arrival of high-speed fibre broadband has been welcomed by local businesses and residents in Flash, where the technology is now available to around 40 premises.

Lynsay Jackson, owner of Flash Bar Stores, was one of the first people to upgrade to fibre broadband. Now she’s enjoying broadband download speeds of around 40 megabits per second (Mbps) – around 80 times faster than the half a megabit she used to get.

The shop and café is a popular haunt for passing cyclists and ramblers as well as locals, providing them with supplies, refreshments and free wi-fi access. Another service at the shop, a webcam, has also benefited from the arrival of high-speed fibre broadband; it gives visitors a valuable insight into the local weather, especially during the winter months, when it can be changeable and challenging.

Lynsay, who set up the business six years ago, said: “Since upgrading to fibre broadband, I’ve noticed the streaming on the webcam is much better. Now I’ve got fibre, I plan to use social media much more as it’s so much quicker to upload updates and I’m looking at redeveloping our website and adding video links.

“Superfast broadband has already helped me in practical ways. Ordering supplies is so much easier and faster. I even watched a self-help video about filling in company tax returns the other day – something that would have been impossible before.”

More than 65,000 households across the county can now access faster fibre broadband as a result of Superfast Staffordshire.

Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for broadband partnerships, said: “Rolling out faster fibre broadband to the more remote parts of the county can sometimes prove more challenging and complex for our engineering teams, but the upgrade work in Flash went extremely smoothly.

“When BT’s commercial fibre broadband programme is included with the Superfast Staffordshire roll-out it means that fibre is now available to more than 437,000 premises across the county.”

Councillor Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s economy leader, said: “The Superfast Staffordshire programme is all about ensuring all of our communities are connected to faster broadband speeds. People shouldn’t have to miss out just because of where they live.

“It is rewarding to see another wave of residents have improved opportunities for learning, leisure, employment and access to services. Flash is the highest village in Britain – but that’s been no barrier to our Superfast Staffordshire team.”

Fibre broadband has also recently become more widely available in Alrewas, Audley, Creswell, Fazeley, Heath Hayes and Perton as part of the Superfast Staffordshire programme.

People can follow the progress of the roll-out via the Superfast Staffordshire website: www.superfaststaffordshire.co.uk and via Twitter @superfaststaffs and Facebook.

Once an area has ‘gone live’, local people will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 megabits (Mbps) and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps*. Upgrades do not happen automatically - it’s an ‘opt in’ service - but because the Openreach network is ‘open’, residents and businesses wanting to upgrade have a choice of fibre broadband providers, with more than 140 companies now operating in the UK.

Note to Editors

* These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.

Issued by Staffordshire County Council and BT.

For further information about this news release Tom Hobbins at the Staffordshire County Council press office on 01785 276832 or email: tom.hobbins@staffordshire.gov.uk

OrEmma Tennant at the BT Regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com

Twitter: @EmmaTennantBT

All BT news releases can be read at www.bt.com/newscentre

Photos of the roll-out of Superfast Staffordshire can be downloaded for free from: https://flic.kr/s/aHsk1eZqD3

About Superfast Staffordshire

Superfast Staffordshire is a partnership between Staffordshire County Council, BDUK and BT. It builds on the commercial roll-outs in the county.

The first phase of the Superfast Staffordshire roll-out programme represents an investment of more than £27 million (£7.44 million from Staffordshire County Council, £7.44m from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK and £12.47m from BT.)

Staffordshire County Council will receive an extra £2.4m from BT following higher than expected take-up of fibre broadband. This will be modelled in due course.

The new deal injects further funding into the County Council’s contract with BT, with a further £1.68m coming from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) and £630,000 from BT.

For those premises not included in the fibre footprint, Superfast Staffordshire is aiming to improve broadband speeds using alternative technologies.

About Superfast Britain

Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio is comprised of three elements:

  1. £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017;
  2. £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities; and
  3. £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

    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 more than 170 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 principally of five customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2015, BT Group’s reported revenue was £17,979mwith reported profit before taxation of £2,645m.

    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.