Cambridgeshire County Council is setting out a 21st Century ‘digital connectivity blueprint’ to meet the growing demands for fast internet access to support every aspect of modern living.
The blueprint underpins Cambridgeshire’s position as a leading digital county – supporting business growth, ensuring that communities are connected, and making public services more accessible and affordable.
The ambitious plan outlines challenging targets for the Connecting Cambridgeshire partnership programme to extend broadband, mobile and public access Wi-fi coverage across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough over the next three years.
The programme is striving to bring superfast broadband to within reach of 99% of homes and businesses, whilst raising 4G mobile coverage, getting ready for 5G and increasing public Wi-fi access in communities across the county by the end of 2020.
This can be achieved without extra cost to the County Council, through the re-investment of over £10million additional ‘gainshare’ profits – generated by the take-up of fibre broadband, which is among the highest in the country, together with Government and EU funding.
Developing a world-class digital connectivity infrastructure will bring benefits for the whole of Cambridgeshire in key areas including the economy, education and skills, high quality of life and health and well-being.
Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee, which oversees the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, said:
“An up-to-date digital connectivity infrastructure is essential for Cambridgeshire to maintain our position as a leading digital county and for future economic success. Digital technology underpins almost every aspect of modern living across work, travel, leisure and health, and Internet access is now widely viewed as the ‘4th utility’.
“Our Connecting Cambridgeshire programme has made great progress and is on track to bring superfast broadband access to 95% of premises in the county by the end of this year. But there is more to do to reach remaining households and businesses, using the latest broadband, mobile and Wi-fi technologies to ensure our connectivity is world-class.”
The County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee will be asked to endorse the digital blueprint and support 5G test bed plans at its meeting on 9 March, subject to the approval of budget by the General Purposes Committee later this month.
Why Cambridgeshire needs 21st Century digital connectivity:
Economy – the UK digital economy is growing 2.5 times faster than any other sector and internet traffic is set to double every two years. Demand is above average across the county, with a 20% growth in tech’ businesses in Greater Cambridge alone
Education and Skills – being online helps children learn, the next generation expect to be ‘always on’ able to access the Internet wherever they are and jobs increasingly demand digital skills.
Lifestyle – households use rising numbers of Internet devices, with 90% of adults going online for work, leisure, socialising and accessing public services, of which 65% use smartphones.
Health & Wellbeing – health apps and online tools are being developed to provide rapid, reliable information for patients, while telehealth and remote monitoring helps people to live independently