Superfast Berkshire programme makes fibre broadband available to 10,000 more homes and businesses

More than 10,000 Berkshire homes and businesses now have access to high speed fibre broadband, thanks to the Superfast Berkshire programme.

The milestone comes just over seven months since the first fibre services were made available by the programme in the village of Burghfield Common. Since then, engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, have been installing fibre optic cabling and over 50 new green roadside fibre broadband cabinets in communities across the county.

West Berkshire, the most rural district in the county, has seen upgrades for faster broadband from Kintbury to Theale and from Newbury to West Ilsley in suburban and rural areas alike. To date, West Berkshire has seen 27 cabinets go live, reaching 5,871 premises with a significant footprint in the areas around Burghfield Common, Mortimer, Kintbury, Pangbourne and Theale.

Later in the year, properties in and around Aldermaston, Chieveley, Hermitage, and Lambourn, among others, are due to join them, including some more rural locations. When phase 1 of the Superfast Berkshire programme is completed in September 2015, more than 15,000 West Berkshire homes and businesses are expected to have access to fibre broadband as a result of the programme.

With more than £3.7m of public funding invested under phase 2, West Berkshire is hoping to exceed 95 per cent superfast coverage by the end of 2017.

Roger Croft, West Berkshire Council deputy leader, said: “I know how important broadband is to the rural economy and the rural quality of life. I am delighted that many businesses and households across West Berkshire are benefiting from this investment in their future.”

Richard Benyon, MP for Newbury, said: “I am delighted that such progress has been made. As I emphasised in Parliament recently, connectivity is vital for our many rural businesses to thrive. My focus is now to ensure that the final 5 per cent of premises in West Berkshire are covered.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for next generation access, said: “We have been working hard to get to this milestone. This is an exciting time for Superfast Berkshire and part of the journey that will see the communications landscape completely transformed.

“This project will boost the local economy and help to create and protect local jobs. It will be of enormous benefit to local businesses which can use the faster speeds to improve their competitiveness both within the UK and abroad.”

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "I'm delighted that more than 10,000 Berkshire homes and businesses can now get superfast broadband as a result of our rollout. By 2017, 95 per cent of the UK will have access to superfast speeds which will provide a tremendous boost to local economies across the nation."
Superfast Berkshire is a partnership between the six Berkshire unitary councils, the Local Enterprise Partnership, BT and the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme. An additional 24,000 Berkshire homes and businesses will get access to fibre broadband as a result of the partnership. When the commercial rollout by the private sector is also included, it means that 92 per cent of homes and businesses in the county will be able to get the technology by the end of the programme’s first phase in September 2015.

Additionally, the project aims to ensure that everyone in Berkshire has access to a minimum 2Mbps broadband speed. This will be achieved by extending fibre and using other technologies, such as satellite, in some of the more rural parts of the county.

The high-speed service will provide a major boost for local firms, helping them to attract new business and offering them new ways of flexible working. Local residents will benefit from better entertainment and on-line learning opportunities. Local community groups will have an improved opportunity to promote, manage and engage with local people about their work.

Fibre broadband enables a family to simultaneously download a movie, watch a TV replay service, surf the internet and play games online all at the same time. A whole album can be downloaded in less than 30 seconds and a feature length HD movie in less than 10 minutes, whilst high-resolution photos can be uploaded to Facebook in seconds.

The network is open to all service providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Berkshire households and businesses will benefit from a highly competitive market.

Fibre to the Cabinet will be the main technology deployed. This can deliver wholesale downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps, and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre to the Premises technology – delivering ultra-fast wholesale speeds of up to 330Mbps – will also be deployed in certain areas and will be available on demand should local businesses want the ultra-fast speeds it offers. 1

The £8.06 million project is receiving £2.03m investment from BDUK, and £2.03m from Berkshire’s local authorities and Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership. BT is contributing £4m to see the scheme delivered