Superfast Worcestershire races towards target of 90 per cent of county businesses able to access faster fibre broadband

More than 90 per cent of firms in the Wyre Forest District already able to access new technology; Mark Garnier MP welcomes major milestone during visit to local business; “Fibre broadband has made us more efficient” – says Stourport firm; New technology has created “vibrant business environment” - Sandy Lane Business Association.

Mark Garnier MP has been seeing first-hand how the roll-out of faster fibre broadband by the Superfast Worcestershire partnership is transforming the way county firms do business.

His visit to Witley Jones, the Stourport-based education furniture specialists, coincided with news from lead partners Worcestershire County Council and BT that around 85 per cent of county businesses - and more than 90 per cent in Wyre Forest District - are now able to access faster fibre broadband as a result of the partnership.

The ambitious Superfast Worcestershire programme is on target to roll out high-speed fibre broadband to 90 per cent of the county’s businesses by this Spring in support of the County Council’s ‘Open for Business’ initiative.

Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest, said: “Earlier this month Superfast Worcestershire celebrated the milestone of 50,000 homes and businesses being able to connect to fibre broadband. Today 85 per cent of our businesses can connect transforming the way people work, boosting the economy and business efficiency. Worcestershire covers over a 1,000 square miles, improving and delivering the infrastructure takes time and as we focus on the rural areas of Wyre Forest and beyond more of us will see the benefits of a superfast connection.”

Simon Downes, sales director of Witley Jones, said: “We run a busy office with 12 people, who may all be online at the same time using the internet for sourcing and researching supplies and designs. Each project is individual which means we are working with architects and designers, sharing large design files and plans on a daily basis. Upload speeds are particularly important when we have huge design files to share.

“Since upgrading to superfast fibre we have seen our upload and download speeds increase more than 10 times and everyone can be online at the same time with no delays making us more efficient and effective.

“On our shop floor we use specialist software to drive the machinery. The suppliers of our computer-controlled wood machinery are based in Italy and they can now remotely diagnose and fix faults reducing any delays in production.”

Chris Jones, managing director of Witley Jones and a board member of the Sandy Lane Business Association, said: “There are around 100 businesses on the Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, most of them are small to medium sized firms like ours employing local people.

“The arrival of superfast fibre broadband to the estate is great news for firms who want to grow their business using the benefits of this new technology. I can see the difference it makes to my own business and I’m very glad that more businesses on the estate can now access fibre broadband which will help to build a vibrant business environment.”

Councillor Ken Pollock, Worcestershire County Council cabinet member for economy, skills and infrastructure, said: "High speed broadband is an essential tool for any modern business. Reaching this important milestone means the vast majority of Worcestershire businesses can now benefit from superfast speeds to enable their growth and development and we are continuing to work to close the gap even further over the next 18 months.”

Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director of next generation access, said: “Superfast Worcestershire is a major engineering programme, but the roll-out is progressing extremely well. More than 50,000 businesses and households now have access to the technology as a result of the partnership – this figure rises to more than 230,000 when combined with BT’s own commercial programme.

“Every day we’re seeing how this technology is making a positive impact on local businesses and households. Whether it’s firms like Witley Jones, people working from home, families using the internet for education or leisure – everything you do online is faster and better with fibre broadband.”

Mark Stansfeld, Chair of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Access to superfast broadband is vital to enable businesses to compete on a global scale and it is fantastic to hear how these local businesses are benefitting from this technology.”

“Today’s announcement is great news and we are now working to extend access to more businesses and homes across Worcestershire. I would urge you to visit the website today and sign up so that you can benefit from superfast broadband at the earliest opportunity.”

People can find out when faster broadband is coming to their area and how to get it by logging onto: www.superfastworcestershire.com.

Residents and businesses will need to sign up for a fibre broadband package to benefit from improved speeds, but because the network is being installed by Openreach it is ‘open’, so there is a wide choice of fibre broadband service providers, with more than 140 now operating in the UK.


Press contacts:

For more information please call Worcestershire County Council on 01905 766642 or 01905 766646 or email commsunit@worcestershire.gov.uk.

Alternatively you can contact Emma Tennant at the BT regional press office on 0800 085 0660 or email emma.tennant@bt.com

Twitter: @EmmaTennantBT

All BT news releases are available at http://www.btplc.com/News

Notes to Editors

About Superfast Worcestershire:

Superfast Worcestershire is a partnership between Worcestershire County Council, BT and the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. In the phase scheduled to end in June 2016, which is due to reach 57,000 premises, Worcestershire County Council is contributing up to £8.5 million, with an additional £8.9 million from BT, and a further £4.45 million from the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) funds through the Superfast Britain initiative (please see below) to make a total of £21.85 million.

A further contract to extend the programme was signed in March 2015 to 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 included. 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 to make a total of £6.2 million.

About Superfast Britain

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

  1. £790m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017;
  2. £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities; and
  3. £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

    About BT

    BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services. Following the acquisition of EE on 29 January 2016, BT consists principally of six customer-facing lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Business, BT Consumer, EE, BT Wholesale and Openreach.

    For the year ended 31 March 2015, BT Group’s reported revenue was £17,979m with reported profit before taxation of £2,645m.

    British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.

    For more information, visitwww.btplc.com.