The village of Blackshaw Moor has become one of the first communities in the Staffordshire Moorlands to benefit from the multi-million pound Superfast Staffordshire high-speed fibre broadband programme as it hits the 10,000 property mark.
Around 150 premises in the community now have access to faster fibre broadband for the first time as a result of the project, partners Staffordshire County Council and BT announced today.
Fibre broadband has now been made available to 10,000 homes and businesses in Staffordshire since engineering work began in May this year.
And the roll-out is continuing at a rapid pace. By the end of 2014, the partnership is expected to have made the high-speed technology available to more than 22,000 Staffordshire premises.
This announcement comes as the Government announced today that more than 1 million UK homes and businesses now have access to superfast broadband as a result of the UK wide rollout. Up to 40,000 premises are now gaining access every week and the programme will extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for the economy and infrastructure, Mark Winnington, said: “The Superfast Staffordshire project is connecting people across the county and increasing opportunities, which is why it is so important. It is enabling us to reach communities which previously had no access to superfast broadband which is vital to people and businesses. Connecting people through faster broadband speeds is as important as road or rail and means we’ll be ahead of many other areas of the UK and Europe. People should not have to miss out because of where they live or where their business is located.
“Today we are marking the 10,000th property in Staffordshire that is now able to access faster broadband which is a significant milestone. Our partner BT is continuing to work hard to deliver the programme as quickly and efficiently as it can and has carefully programmed the work to get the best value for money and with the least disruption as possible. People can also be assured that we will be working extremely hard to find a solution to improving broadband speeds to the remaining five per cent of properties.”
Local county councillor and Staffordshire’s rural affairs leader Gill Heath said: “It’s pleasing to see that Blackshaw Moor properties can now access faster broadband speeds. There are a number of businesses in the area which will benefit, as well as hundreds of residents. This is a real step forward for the village.”
Bill Murphy, BT managing director of next generation access, said: “This is an exciting time for Staffordshire. The Superfast Staffordshire programme is a huge engineering project which is gathering pace as today’s milestone demonstrates. In today’s digitally interconnected world this fibre broadband infrastructure is seen as important as having access to electricity and running water, especially in rural communities such as Blackshaw Moor. From children doing their homework to caring for an elderly population and from social media, to e-commerce and home entertainment – fast broadband is the critical enabler.”
The network being rolled out by BT’s local network business, Openreach, is available on an equal basis to all fibre broadband service providers, of which there are now more than 140 in the UK, thereby ensuring competitive pricing and products for Staffordshire residents and businesses.
During the Superfast Staffordshire roll-out, more than one million metres of fibre optic cable and around 500 new street-side cabinets will be installed to connect people to the new network across the county.
The partnership programme is in addition to BT’s commercial roll-out thataims to enable more than 370,000 county premises by the end of 2014.
The combined investment from Superfast Staffordshire, BT and other private sector programmes will mean 95 per cent of homes and businesses across the county having access to super-fast broadband by Spring 2016.