Superfast broadband boost for thousands of homes and businesses

Digital Economy Minister welcomes news 

A multi-million pound boost to the current Superfast Worcestershire programme will see more than 8,000 additional homes and businesses able to access high-speed fibre broadband by Summer 2018.

The additional funding will extend the reach of the existing Superfast Worcestershire partnership programme between Worcestershire County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK), which began making faster fibre broadband connections available to the first homes and businesses last May.

The extension is as a result of additional investment by the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership through the Government's Growth Deal, BDUK, and BT. Work on the new network upgrades will begin next year and be completed by Summer 2018.

Following agreement at Worcestershire County Council's February Cabinet meeting to appoint a preferred partner and supplier for the delivery of the extension programme, BT has now been appointed to further extend the Superfast Worcestershire network across the county.

More than 22,000 premises are already able to sign up to the high-speed technology out of the 55,000 planned in the first phase of the Superfast Worcestershire programme, which will finish at the end of June 2016.

When the extension of the programme is complete it will 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 also included; with 94 per cent of all premises across the county able to access superfast speeds of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) and above.

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.

Residents and businesses choosing to sign up to the new improved network will be able to get download speeds of up to 80 Mbps and upload speeds of up to 20Mbps*. Because the network being built by BT’s local network business, Openreach, is ‘open’, people will be able to choose from a wide range of broadband service providers, with more than 140 fibre broadband providers currently operating in the UK.

The extension to the programme will bring additional fibre broadband coverage to each of the six districts in the county. The anticipated deployment plan includes parts of the areas of: Trimpley and Rowney Green, the Lenches and new areas around the Teme Valley as well as parts of Beckford. A map is available at www.superfastworcestershire.org.uk showing the full anticipated coverage across the county. Local residents and businesses will be able to sign up for the latest programme updates and follow progress via the Superfast Worcestershire website, including an updated 'postcode checker' that will be made available in the coming weeks.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: "Our rollout of superfast broadband in Worcestershire is proceeding at pace and we're on track to take coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017. Already an additional 22,000 homes and businesses in Worcestershire can now access superfast speeds as a result of our work, and I'm delighted that this additional investment means our project will now reach another 8,000 properties."

Sander Kirstel, Director of Commercial and Change at Worcestershire County Council, said: "We know that local demand for improved broadband speeds is high. The extension programme will further improve fibre broadband speeds and increase the reach of our coverage. This is great news for residents and businesses. As well as driving business growth, fibre broadband offers new online learning and entertainment opportunities for households. The technology will also support our Digital Council transformation over the next decade."

Steve Henderson, BT’s regional director for broadband partnerships, said: "This is another important chapter in the development of Worcestershire. Increasingly, the internet is touching our lives in new and innovative ways, whether it’s people working from home or families wanting to connect lots of different devices at the same time – everything is better with high-speed fibre broadband, which is why our project teams are committed to bringing the benefits of this technology to as many communities as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Gary Woodman, Executive Director of the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is great news that contracts are being signed today so that work can continue at pace to build on the Superfast Worcestershire programme and bring access to Superfast Broadband to around 94 per cent of homes and business premises by Summer 2018. We know how important this technology is locally and in ensuring that Worcestershire continues to be a world class place to do business. I would encourage people to register for updates so you can upgrade at the earliest opportunity to benefit from the high speeds.”

Notes to editors

*These are the top wholesale speeds available from Openreach to all service providers; speeds offered by service providers may vary.
For more information, contact Worcestershire County Council's communications team on 01905 766642 or 01905 766646.
Alternatively, you can contact Emma Tennant at the BT regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or email: emma.tennant@bt.com All BT news releases are available at www.btplc.com/News
About Superfast Worcestershire
Superfast Worcestershire is a partnership between Worcestershire County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. Worcestershire County Council is contributing up to £8.5 million, with an additional £8.9 million from BT and a further £3.35 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds through the Superfast Britain initiative (please see below).

About Worcestershire’s Strategic Economic Plan and the Growth Deal

  • Worcestershire has a 10 year Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) which has been formed by working with all partners including local businesses, councils, trade bodies and the voluntary sector
    • Worcestershire has been allocated £47m in the first round of the Government’s Growth Deal during 2014 and £7.2m in the second round in January 2015. The programmes which are funded by the Growth Deal are vital to delivering Worcestershire’s SEP. £2.39m has been allocated to Superfast Broadband.
    • The SEP and the programmes funded by the Growth Deal enable a number of key improvements to be made across the County that will help Worcestershire to continue to be a world class place for business
    • Projects will - create jobs, leverage private and public sector funding, improve road and rail networks and Worcestershire's flooding resilience. The funding will also further develop skills and ensure even greater rollout of Superfast Broadband.

Superfast Britain
Superfast Britain is a Government programme of investment in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of 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:

  • £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017
    • £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
    • £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