Super-fast fibre broadband goes live in Sherborne and Shaftesbury

Upgrade hailed by MPs as another 7,800 Dorset homes and businesses set to benefit from BT’s £2.5 billion rollout 

Super-fast broadband has arrived in Sherborne and Shaftesbury, BT announced today. More than 2,800 homes and businesses in the two Dorset towns now have access to the high-speed technology – and this figure will increase to more than 7,800 as engineers complete the local upgrade in the weeks ahead. 

They follow 19 Dorset communities, such as Bournemouth, Weymouth, Portland, Dorchester, Verwood, Blandford and Poole, where fibre broadband is already available. Lyme Regis, Swanage, Gillingham and Wareham are also due to be upgraded and by the end of Spring 2014 more than 260,000 homes and businesses in the county will be able to benefit from BT’s £2.5 billion fibre programme. 

Jon Reynolds, BT South West director, said: “Our roll-out of fibre broadband continues at a world class pace in the South West, with Shaftesbury and Sherborne the latest communities to benefit. More than 1.7 million homes and businesses across the UK are already using our new fibre network. 

“Whatever you’re doing online, you can do it better and faster with fibre. Whether it’s shopping, downloading music and video, watching TV, social networking, studying or researching homework, once you’ve switched to fibre broadband you’ll never look back. Outside the home, it also has huge potential for public services and businesses. 

“Businesses working better with fibre broadband tell us it’s helping them in a wealth of ways, from day to day activities like downloading software, collaborating with clients and moving large data files around to big business decisions like expanding the workforce or introducing better quality IT services at less cost. 

“BT is not just building a national communications network fit for 21st century Britain; we’re doing it at speed, making fibre broadband available to around 80,000 more premises a week.

”We’ve always said we’d like to work with the public sector to expand the fibre footprint beyond the commercial boundaries and in Dorset we are excited to be doing exactly that through our Superfast Dorset partnership with Dorset County Council, which aims to make fibre broadband available to 97 per cent of Dorset premises.” 

The Rt Hon Oliver Letwin, MP for West Dorset, which includes Sherborne, said: “Super-fast fibre broadband will benefit both local residents and businesses. Broadband is an essential part of Dorset’s present and future. It’s vital that we embrace this latest generation of technology in order for our local economy to remain competitive. 

“Better, faster communications boost businesses, helping them grow, and create more jobs. What’s more, local residents can enjoy faster browsing and downloading at home. This is great news for the whole town and I look forward to fibre being rolled out across the rest of my constituency.” 

Robert Walter, MP for North Dorset, which includes Shaftesbury, said: “BT’s roll-out of super-fast broadband in Dorset is one of the most important recent improvements for our local businesses and households. Increasingly, high-speed communications are a key part of everyday life, whether you are working in an office, improving your education at home or just wanting to watch a film or programme online. It is providing a major boost for the prosperity and success of a number of communities in my constituency.” 

BT’s fibre footprint currently passes more than 16 million UK homes and businesses. It’s due to pass two-thirds of UK premises – around 19 million premises – by the end of spring 2014, at least 18 months ahead of the original timetable.1 

Openreach, BT’s local network business, is primarily deploying fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the exchange to a local roadside cabinet. In addition to download speeds of up to 80Mbps, FTTC also delivers upload speeds of up to 20Mbps2 — and could deliver even faster speeds in the future. 

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 demand3 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 330Mbps2. 
According to the regulator Ofcom, the current average UK residential broadband download speed is 14.7Mbps. 

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. 

The benefits are also considerable for businesses, which can do much more in far less time. Firms can speed up file and data transfers, collaborate with colleagues and customers on conference or video calls or swap their hardware and expensive software licenses for files, processing power and software from cloud computing. Staff can work as effectively from home as they would in the office. 

Unlike other companies, Openreach offers fibre broadband access to all service providers on an open, wholesale basis, underpinning a competitive market. For further information on Openreach’s fibre broadband programme visit www.superfast-openreach.co.uk 


Notes to editors 
1 BT’s deployment plans are subject to an acceptable environment for investment. 

2These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary. 

3Openreach 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. 

Due to the current network topography, and the economics of deployment, it is likely that some premises within selected exchange areas will not initially be able to access fibre-based broadband. Openreach is considering alternative solutions for these locations. 

About the Superfast Dorset project 
Superfast Dorset is a £31.75 million project to bring faster broadband to parts of Dorset which are not being covered commercially and would otherwise be left behind. 

The partners are BT, the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS), Dorset County Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, the Borough of Poole, Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council, Purbeck District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council. 

BT is contributing £12.87 million, DMCS is contributing £9.44 million and Dorset councils are putting in £9.44 m towards the infrastructure plus a further £1.3 m to ensure the benefits are maximised. Further information is available from www.dorsetforyou.com/superfast.