Over 1,300 further households and businesses across the county are to get access to superfast fibre broadband as a result of a £1.7 million boost to the Superfast Staffordshire roll-out, lead partners Staffordshire County Council and BT have announced. Admaston, Booth and Hanbury are among the local communities to benefit from the expansion. The funding comes from savings made earlier on in the roll-out and additional investment from BT and the Government. Superfast fibre broadband will start to go ‘live’ in these communities from Summer 2018.
It’s three years since Superfast Staffordshire began connecting the first premises to the fibre network as part of the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme. And local communities have been quick to take advantage of the new technology. The percentage of households and businesses in the county opting for an upgrade has tripled in the past two years, to around 37 per cent. Abbots Bromley, Alrewas, Barton-Under-Needwood, Burton-on-Trent, Field, Fradley, Kings Bromley, Rolleston-on-Dove and Yoxall are among the local communities where the technology is proving most popular.
Digital By Default, a creative digital agency based at picturesque Fradley Junction, where Coventry Canal joins the Trent and Mersey Canal, near Burton-on-Trent, is one of many small businesses to upgrade recently. Dom McGrail, who runs the firm, which employs seven people, said superfast fibre broadband has transformed the way they work and communicate. He said: “We use fibre broadband to email documents within the business and to our customers, as well as to manage our sales and to find new business. It’s also vital for updating and building new websites, which is a key part of what we do, as well as downloading our creatives. The arrival of fibre broadband could not have come at a more crucial time for our business. We were getting to the stage where we were having to take work home for downloading so often that we were seriously thinking of relocating the business to a town or city. Having access to reliable and affordable superfast broadband means we can stay here, which has been our home for the past 11 years.”
Around 96,000 households and businesses are able to get high-speed fibre broadband as a result of the Superfast Staffordshire roll-out, of which around 72,000 can get superfast speeds of 24 megabits per second (Mbps) and above. Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock, said: “Our roll-out of superfast broadband in Staffordshire has been a great success so far, and we’ve helped make a high-speed connection available to 96,000 local homes and businesses. We want as many people as possible to benefit from the nationwide superfast roll-out, and I’m delighted another 1,300 premises have now been added to the Superfast Staffordshire programme.”
Councillor Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader, said: “The Superfast Staffordshire programme is delivering for thousands of residents and businesses across the county. We can see with a business like Digital by Default what a difference it can make and has literally secured its position in Staffordshire. Having innovative enterprise in Staffordshire is crucial to our ongoing economic growth, attracting better skilled, better paid jobs. Superfast fibre broadband is essential to business operation and future expansion and it demonstrates why our decision to invest in this project was so important. We are also doing all we can to find solutions to enable the final four per cent of properties to connect. Three years on from the start of the roll-out we are seeing the results of a successful partnership between ourselves, BT and BDUK.”
Ian Binks, BT’s Regional Partnership Director for the West Midlands, said: “It’s great that we’re able to make this important technology available to even more people thanks to savings made during earlier parts of the programme by our project teams, further investment and through use of existing infrastructure. At the same time, we’re continuing to work with the county council to find ways to bring high-speed fibre broadband to the Staffordshire premises not yet earmarked for any upgrades, through co-funding projects with local communities and other means. More than 464,000 Staffordshire households and businesses can now access superfast fibre broadband as a result of the Superfast Staffordshire partnership and BT’s own roll-out, and we’re committed to making it available as widely as possible.”
Superfast Staffordshire and commercial programmes by the private sector will result in 96 per cent of Staffordshire properties being able to connect to fast fibre broadband by the end of next year.