BT To Extend Fibre Broadband Network To Staffordshire

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The £27.35 million project brings superfast connectivity to Stoke-on-Trent, Lichfield and Stafford

BT has agreed a £27.35 million deal to connect residents of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to its superfast fibre network. The project, led by the Staffordshire county council, intends to cover 97 percent of homes and businesses by spring 2016.

It is part-financed by the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative, which aims to provide the best broadband network in Europe by 2015. BT has won all the BDUK contracts so far – and is the only remaining bidder, after Fujitsu withdrew from the programme.

Hitting the target

According to BDUK guidelines, in three years at least 90 percent of premises in the UK should have access to fibre broadband, while the rest should be connected to a network capable of at least 2Mbps. To hit this target, the government has allocated £530 million to stimulate commercial investment into broadband in rural communities.

Fibreoptic cable  © asiana Shutterstock 2013BT was awarded the Staffordshire contract following a procurement exercise through the BDUK framework. However, its fibre network will be open to all communications providers on an equal basis, so consumers and businesses can benefit from a healthy, competitive market.

“The UK already does more business online than any other European country, and this project will provide a tremendous boost to the local economy,” said Ed Vaizey, UK’s Communications Minister.

Combined with commercial roll-outs already taking place in the region, fibre networks will cover 472,000 premises, with 95 percent having access to speeds of at least 24 Mbps. In line with BDUK requirements, the rest of the Staffordshire county will have access to speeds of at least 2Mbps.

Fibre-to-the-Cabinet will be the main technology deployed by BT, delivering downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps and upstream speeds of up to 20Mbps. Fibre-to-the-Premises, which delivers speeds of up to 330Mbps, will also be available on demand should local businesses want the ultra-fast speed it offers.

The funding will be split between Staffordshire council (£7.44m), the government’s BDUK fund (£7.44m) and BT (£12.47m).

“We see this infrastructure as important as road or rail in providing the accessibility and opportunities for our residents and businesses. It will ensure we can compete with other areas of the UK and Europe. That is why we took the crucial decision to invest £7.44million,” said Mark Winnington, Staffordshire county council’s cabinet member for economy and infrastructure.

“It’s great to have BT on board to help deliver the project. While it will take a number of years to roll out across the county, work will start straight away and means that the first communities in Staffordshire will be enjoying high-speed broadband from early 2014 as a direct result of our partnership.”

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