Christmas will be superfast for thousands more households in Cambridgeshire this year thanks to the rapid progress of the Connecting Cambridgeshire fibre broadband roll-out.
The partnership led by Cambridgeshire County Council is celebrating making high-speed fibre available to more than 50,000 homes and businesses across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, since it was launched a year ago.
With tablets and smartphones top of many people’s wish lists this Christmas, it means many more busy households can use faster Internet access for shopping, entertainment and essential services – all at the same time.
Online sales are expected to surge by 13% this festive season with a quarter of customers doing their shopping for gifts and food online; 41% using smartphones and 35% using tablets, according to Mintel.
The announcement takes the programme more than half-way towards its target of giving more than 90,000 households and businesses the chance to upgrade to fibre broadband by the end of 2015.
And plans are being drawn up to reach even more premises with better broadband using extra Government funding to extend the programme. Further details will be announced in the New Year.
Engineers from BT’s local network business, Openreach, have already installed 250 new fibre broadband cabinets and laid over 350 kilometres of fibre cable to extend the existing network in this complex engineering project, which has involved crossing major roads such as the A14, overcoming power issues and inclement weather.
Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the Economy and Environment Committee, responsible for Connecting Cambridgeshire, said: “It’s been a superfast year for Connecting Cambridgeshire and it’s the perfect Christmas present to know that we are on track to bring high speed fibre broadband to thousands of homes and businesses that would not get the chance otherwise.
“Decent broadband is fast becoming an essential for many people and we are seeing above average take-up in areas where faster broadband has arrived. We know it is frustrating having to wait, but rest assured, by the end of 2015, Cambridgeshire will be one of the best connected counties in the country.”
Connecting Cambridgeshire is working with BT and the Government body Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) to roll-out the new broadband network in the most cost effective way to ensure maximum coverage for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Annette Thorpe BT’s regional partnership director for the East of England, said: “BT is keenly aware of the need to provide the fibre broadband network and technology to support the local economy. The work undertaken by Connecting Cambridgeshire and BT to make fibre broadband available to more homes and businesses across the county is vital. It helps people to work where and how they want and also brings entertainment and knowledge to people and families at home. A year into the partnership this milestone is great news for all involved.”
Residents in the rural Cambridgeshire village of Ellington responded superfast to the news that high speed fibre broadband had arrived in their village with many households upgrading in the first week, prompting Openreach to extend the capacity of the new green fibre broadband cabinet.
Ellington Broadband Champion and Parish Council Clerk, Darren Tysoe, used Facebook and emails to spread the word rapidly to fellow residents as soon as Connecting Cambridgeshire let him know it was live. He said: “It really is a Christmas present for the village. We have been looking forward to this for a long time; it’s going to make a big difference to families and people who work from home.”
The first Ellington household to upgrade to fibre broadband is now getting superfast download speeds of up to 80mbps having had less than 2 mbps before the area went live. Harwinder Ghag, who is an IT manager for a local company, said: “Everything is so much quicker; my children think I am a superhero! It once took us 3 days to download a Playstation game and with superfast the upgrade took 13 minutes.
He added: “Having superfast puts me on a par with the colleagues I work with in China. I feel part of the same team now.”
Darren is one of 130 Broadband Champions across the county, who are keeping their communities informed and helping people to upgrade to fibre broadband when it arrives.
Residents can find out when they can get faster broadband and how to upgrade to fibre on the Connecting Cambridgeshire website at http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk