03
July
2015
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15:58
Europe/Amsterdam

Residents in historic county village enjoy benefits of faster fibre broadband as Superfast Worcestershire partnership celebrates another major milestone

Summary
Residents in an historic Worcestershire village are being helped to become more internet savvy thanks to an innovative community project and the Superfast Worcestershire partnership.

Superfast Worcestershire switches on 200th fibre broadband cabinet;

Nigel Huddleston MP hails the achievement

Residents in an historic Worcestershire village are being helped to become more internet savvy thanks to an innovative community project and the Superfast Worcestershire partnership.

Partners Worcestershire County Council and BT today switched on the 200th road-side fibre cabinet as part of the ambitious roll-out, with Bretforton and Badsey among the latest communities to benefit.

The arrival of faster fibre broadband has been particularly timely for visitors to the Bretforton Community Shop, who have been getting to grips with the worldwide web following the installation of an internet kiosk and free wireless (wi-fi) service.

Now they are able to do their surfing, online research and shopping even quicker, following the upgrade to fibre broadband.

Nigel Huddleston MP welcomed the news as he joined local residents and representatives from the Superfast Worcestershire partnership at Bretforton Community Shop to celebrate the latest milestone.

He said: “The installation of this kiosk will make a huge difference to residents and is a valuable local asset. Being able to get online is quickly becoming essential to daily life and thanks to the Bretforton Community Shop, Rooftop Housing and Superfast Worcestershire many more people will be able to access online services to shop, pay bills or communicate with friends and relatives. This is an excellent initiative and I was delighted to have been at the launch of what is an exciting new digital future for the village.”

Councillor Simon Geraghty, Worcestershire County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Skills & Infrastructure, said: "The new kiosk is a fantastic resource for the local community, which will enable them to take advantage of the faster broadband speeds now available in Bretforton. It's also great that we have reached the milestone of 200 cabinets live across the County. I'd encourage residents and businesses to use the postcode checker on the Superfast Worcestershire website to see if fibre broadband is available or planned in their local area."

Bretforton Community Shop - Bretforton’s one and only shop - opened at the end of last year after funds were raised by selling shares to people in the village and from donations. Central to the business plan was that it should be a focus for village life. The shop has a small café and now has internet access thanks to the Rooftop Housing Group which paid for the installation of an internet kiosk in the shop. This is the first of its kind installed away from the housing association’s premises and is designed to encourage more people to get online and improve digital connectivity for the whole community in Bretforton.

Juliana Crowe, director of housing and communities at Rooftop Housing Group, said: “We want to encourage as many of our tenants as possible to access online services, so siting one of our kiosks in the heart of Bretforton is ideal. It makes it easier for tenants who don’t have online access at home or those who may be new to using online services. They can use the kiosk to do everything from paying their rent, to reporting a repair or contacting their housing officer. But anyone in the community can use the wi-fi and internet access at the shop.

“The community shop is proving to be an ideal location and we plan to site more kiosks in other communities to enable even more people to take similar advantage of the benefits of faster fibre broadband.”

Chris Buckham, chairman of Bretforton Community Shop, said: "Our new kiosk is playing a key role in positioning Bretforton Community Shop at the heart of village life. Whether we are helping the older generation get online for the first time or allowing our essential seasonal workers to communicate with families back home in Eastern Europe, our new facility is helping to make the digital future a reality in our village.

“The arrival of fibre broadband has not only benefited the Community Shop, but also residents who increasingly rely on high speed access to services for those who work from home as well as meeting the needs for faster broadband for leisure access to social media."

Steve Edwards, BT’s director of next generation access, said: “As the project progresses we’re reaching further into the more rural parts of Worcestershire bringing the benefits of high speed broadband to more and more communities. Thanks to the forward thinking team who set up the Bretforton Community Shop and the generosity of the Rooftop Housing Group, residents in the historic village of Bretforton can now experience the benefits of faster fibre broadband first hand in the shop.

“Whether a homeworker, a start-up business or a busy family - the benefits of high-speed broadband can be seen to impact on all aspects of modern day life.”

Local people wanting updates on the fibre roll-out can visit the Superfast Worcestershire website at: www.superfastworcestershire.com and register for further updates, visit the Facebook page and join the conversation on Twitter @SuperfastWorcs.

Residents and businesses will need to sign up for a fibre package to benefit from improved speeds, but because the network is being installed by Openreach it is ‘open’, so everyone can choose from a choice of broadband service providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK. Local people choosing to upgrade will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 megabits (Mbps) and uploads of up to 20Mbps**.

Superfast Worcestershire, which began connecting the first premises in May 2014, has now enabled more than 30,000 homes and business to access faster fibre broadband.

During the Superfast Worcestershire roll-out, more than 720 kilometres of fibre optic cable and nearly 400 new street-side cabinets will be installed to connect people to the new network across the partnership area.

--ends--

Notes to Editors

About Superfast Worcestershire:

*Superfast Worcestershire is a partnership between Worcestershire County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. In the phase scheduled to end in June 2016, which is due to reach 57,000 premises, Worcestershire County Council is contributing up to £8.5 million, with an additional £8.9 million from BT, and a further £4.45 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds through the Superfast Britain initiative (please see below) to make a total of £21.85 million.

A further contract to extend the programme was signed in March 2015 to increase the percentage of homes and businesses able to access fibre-based broadband in Worcestershire to more than 95 per cent when the private sector’s commercial roll-out of the technology is included. The total amount of funding available for the extension to the programme is £6.2 million, comprising £2.39 million grant funding each from the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund and the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal, and £1.42 million from BT to make a total of £6.2 million.

** 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 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 Bretforton Community Shop

    Bretforton Community Shop and village hub opened in December 2014, after a successful community share offer raised funds to build a new village shop. Supported by grants from the Big Lottery Fund, Rooftop Housing Association and the County and District Councils, the Shop has rapidly become a hub for Bretforton village, with over 50 residents volunteering in the shop. As well as offering everyday essentials, it is an outlet for local food growers and producers, a thriving café and meeting place and, most recently, a location for one of the first high speed digital kiosks designed to improve internet access and reduce digital exclusion.

    About Rooftop Housing Group

    Rooftop Housing Group Limited consists of Rooftop Housing Association (RHA), a registered provider of social housing predominantly in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and the West Midlands; Rooftop Homes Limited, a smaller company which specialises in providing accommodation for NHS Trusts, private residential and private garages; and G3 (inspiring individuals) Limited, a voluntary organisation that works across the county of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire to house and support young people between the ages of 16 and 25 and older people aged 55+. In total the group owns more than 6,200 homes including affordable, shared ownership and rural properties.