Second stage of multi million pound Herts superfast broadband rollout will start six months early
Today Hertfordshire County Council announced that the Connected Counties programme will start the second stage of its fibre broadband rollout in Herts six months early. The news came as an additional £240,000 of funding was also made available to increase total fibre coverage across the county.
Through the programme, an Acceleration Package has been agreed to ensure that the £13.9 million second contract rollout begins in January 2016 instead of July 2016.
With the end of the programme being brought forward nine months, broadband coverage will now reach 95 per cent of Hertfordshire premises by March 2017 and over 98 per cent coverage by the end of June 2018.
The new timescales deliver £240,000 of funding efficiencies, which will be invested back into the Herts programme to further increase fibre coverage.
Connected Counties is a partnership involving Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Councils, Herts and Bucks Local Enterprise Partnerships and BT. It is already well on the way to ensuring over 90 per cent of both counties have access to fibre broadband by the end of March 2016 as part of the current £18.06 million rollout.
In total over 46,000 homes and businesses in Herts will be able to access fibre broadband through the Connected Counties programme by June 2018.
This builds on the commercial fibre broadband programmes of BT and other network providers, which have already made the high-speed technology available to more than 400,000 households and businesses across Hertfordshire.
David Williams, Hertfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Education & Skills, said:
Access to reliable, fast internet is essential for homes and businesses in Hertfordshire. Businesses rely on being able to connect with customers quickly and through a range of digital technologies, and home users are increasingly making the most of online streaming services, so a good connection is key. It’s great news that the roll out of the Connected Counties programme is now ahead in its scheduled releases and more people will have the opportunity to make use of it sooner,
Andrew Percival, Board Member of Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership's Infrastructure Board, added:
“I am delighted that the contribution made by Hertfordshire LEP has been instrumental in addressing significant gaps in the availability of superfast broadband at three of our most significant business parks - Centennial Park, Elstree; Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage; and Maylands Business Park, Hemel Hempstead. Several hundred small and medium businesses now enjoy an uplift in broadband services, which is helping to drive commercial growth through better digital connectivity.”
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “The Connected Counties programme continues to make great progress andI’m proud that we are going to be rolling out this fantastic technology,ahead of schedule.
"The programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together.
"High-speed fibre broadband is providing a major boost for local households and businesses whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and leisure. BT is committed to rolling out faster broadband as quickly and widely as possible. Working with government, local authorities and local communities, we want to make faster broadband available in even the most challenging locations.”
For more information about Connected Counties and to find out whether your premises is part of the programme please visit www.connectedcounties.org
Notes to editors:
The total Connected Counties programme funding for Hertfordshire was sourced from contributions of £4.68m from Hertfordshire County Council, £1m from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership and a matched funding contribution of £5.17m from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. BT is contributing £8.6 million to be shared across both counties as part of the current programme rollout, and will be contributing £5.9 million over the term of the future rollout in Hertfordshire.
The programme is extending BT Openreach’s fibre broadband network. This network is available on an open wholesale basis to all internet service providers, ensuring competitive pricing and products for all local households and businesses.
For more information, visit www.connectedcounties.org
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