Superfast broadband reaches 2 million more homes and businesses

The Government has announced today that superfast broadband will reach more than 2 million across homes and businesses in the UK as part of the BDUK programme. In Hertfordshire thousands of homes and businesses can benefit from faster internet speeds, thanks to the Connected Counties programme.

Connected Counties – the £18.06 million partnership made up of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire County Councils and BT – is set to make faster fibre broadband available to more than 90 per cent of homes and businesses in the two counties by March 2016.

The Hertfordshire part of the programme was granted £1.1 million by the Government as part of their national 'Superfast Britain’ scheme. As well as this, a match-funded contribution was made by Hertfordshire County Council (£1.1 million).
Hertfordshire’s contribution also includes funding of £0.5 million from the county’s Local Enterprise Partnership, while BT is contributing £8.6 million to be shared across both counties.

Furthermore, the Connected Counties programme has now finalised additional funding of £8.14 million as part of the Government Superfast Extension Programme (SEP) that aims to see more than 95 per cent of Hertfordshire achieve faster fibre-optic speeds by December 2017.

The UK-wide rollout of fibre-optic broadband is a key part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to secure Britain’s future, by providing access to superfast broadband in areas that would not have been reached otherwise. It aligns well with Hertfordshire County Council’s plans to secure the best infrastructure possible for Hertfordshire citizens and businesses. In total BT has so far enabled fibre broadband to more than 22 million homes and businesses in the UK as part of its commercial and BDUK high-speed fibre deployment, enabling three quarters of the UK to access high speed fibre connections.

In total, more than 60,000 homes and businesses in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire will receive superfast broadband through the programme by March 2016, and the technology is already available to over 27,000 of these premises.

Cllr Chris Hayward, Hertfordshire’s Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Education and Skills, said, “It is excellent that Hertfordshire has been able to benefit from the Government’s nationwide rollout of superfast broadband, which brings great advantages and benefits to Hertfordshire’s families and businesses. For families, having faster speeds means family members can all use the internet at the same time, whether they are using it for their education, streaming films or TV shows, using it to stay in touch with others or using for leisure activities such as playing games online.

“In turn, businesses are able to be more productive. It helps to ensure they have a reliable service at all times, provides new means of communication with their customers and gives them access to new ways of working so that they can do business faster and make effective use of new technologies. Commerce in the county will benefit from Connected Counties, with business parks in Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage and Elstree already starting to access superfast broadband as part of the scheme.”

Andrew Percival, chair of Hertfordshire LEP's infrastructure board, added: "One of the LEP's key roles is to ensure that Hertfordshire is a great place to do business. Reliable broadband access is an absolute essential for modern businesses looking to grow.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s Managing Director Next Generation Access, said, “Today marks a giant step forward in the rollout of fibre broadband in Hertfordshire and also across the UK. Across the region more than 600,000 homes and businesses now have access to high-speed fibre broadband thanks to Connected Counties and BT’s own commercial fibre broadband programme. We are now reaching into the heart of scores of communities across the region that have so far been beyond the reach of this vital technology.

“There can be few areas of modern life which are not influenced in some way by broadband – whether it’s supporting how we work, how we learn, how we communicate with friends and family, or how we entertain ourselves. Now’s the time to embrace high-speed broadband and switch to the superfast lane.”

For more information about Connected Counties, please visit www.connectedcounties.org

Notes to editors:

Connected Counties

Connected Counties is a joint project to bring fibre broadband to over 90 per cent of homes and businesses in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire by the end of March 2016.

For more information, visit www.connectedcounties.org